Following on from last week’s news that BNP Paribas Fortis is to cut 2,000 jobs over the next three years, the bank also intends to speed up the closure of its branches, according to a report in De Tijd based on “well-placed sources”. Fortis is the largest bank in the country, and at the end of last year counted 680 bank branches, 40% fewer that in the mid-2000s. However like all retail banks, technological advances mean many fewer customers use branches to do their business. Across the sector, there are now 5,133 bank branches, 36% fewer than ten years ago.
The majority of the cuts will come in central and support services, with the rest coming in sales, which means bank branches, the newspaper writes.
It was announced by the bank in October last year that 62 branches would close. Fortis intends to achieve those cuts by next month, when it will announce the extent of further cuts. The meeting of the business council due for April will be restricted to the 2018 results, but before then, in late March, the regional directors will be present at a two-day meeting of the Retail & Private Banking division, when the question of branch numbers is sure to arise.
The extent of the cuts will depend on an analysis of how many – or rather how few – employees can staff a branch before it has to close. The bank will also be paying close attention to what other major banks are doing. “Adapting the network is always a game of strategic competition,” one source told the paper.