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

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. He points to a recent proposed closing of a KeyBank branch. …

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