Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Thinking over Branches in the Community

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Thinking over Branches in the Community

Article excerpt

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Bruce Murphy's son, he points out, "is proud that he hasn't been inside a bank branch in three years."

But Murphy, who is head of corporate responsibility for $89 million-assets KeyBank, N.A., remains a supporter of the importance of physical branches even as his bank, like many, constantly reassesses the need for physical facilities.

According to Murphy, branch placement, as well as a bank's record of openings and closings, are an important part of the large-bank Community Reinvestment Act service test. Branches are where customers can still have the "human touch," he explains, and they remain a key access point for small businesses. But beyond their functionality, branches represent a symbol of a bank's stability in a specific market.

Even today, closing a branch in a low-to-moderate-income neighborhood can raise eyebrows and questions, Murphy acknowledges. "And if yours is the last branch in a neighborhood," he adds, "that becomes a critical issue."

Deciding what to do with a branch can't be done callously and you have to look at the facts from both sides, Murphy suggests. …

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