Northwest Bank To Close More Than 40 Locations
Northwest Bancshares Inc., the holding company of Warren County-based Northwest Bank, announced this week that it will close more than 40 locations.
In a Monday release, Chairman, President, and CEO Ronald Seiffert cited the changing ways people do their banking as a driver in the closure of 42 full-services offices, one free-standing drive-through, and one business office by the end of the year.
One of those locations is in Warren County — the Tidioute branch. No location in Chautauqua County will be impacted, the company confirmed.
“Our customers’ banking preferences continue to evolve to favor a more digital banking experience and the COVID-19 pandemic has magnified and accelerated these preferences,” Seiffert said. “This branch optimization plan reflects our ongoing efforts to ensure we are well positioned in our industry to provide the community bank experience that is valued by our customer base while also enhancing our strong digital and mobile banking presence.”
The closures represent about 20 percent of the company’s locations — 205 full-service offices and eight free-standing drive-through locations — in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, and Indiana. They “are spread across our footprint and are not concentrated in any one market,” according to the release. “Because customer service through our retail network teams is a hallmark of our company, in most cases the offices we’re closing are in close proximity to another Northwest location.”
Letters were sent this week to customers of the closing locations.
“Customers of these offices will have no interruption of service,” according to the release. “The terms and conditions of their accounts will remain the same and they will continue to have free access to their accounts through online and mobile banking, our free ATM network, automated telephone banking and live service through our contact center and remaining retail network.”
“We are confident in the abilities of our dedicated employees to continue to provide our loyal customers and communities the award-winning services they deserve,” Seiffert said.
The changes do not reflect a problem with the bottom line, according to the release, which says the company is “financially strong.”
Northwest, which is the largest employer in Warren County, said there will be some job losses due to the changes.
“Working closely with region management, we assessed open positions across our retail network,” according to the release. “Some employees will be reassigned to nearby offices but others, unfortunately, will not be retained and will be offered a severance package for their years of dedicated service.”
The company expects the closures to create savings right away.
“The annual reduction in pre-tax operating expenses beginning in 2021 are estimated to be approximately $13 million,” according to the release.
The patterns that led to the changes have been emerging for a decade. The pandemic magnified those patterns.
“Over the past ten years, significant enhancements in technology have dramatically changed customer preferences, behavior and expectations,” according to the release. “These shifts span not just our own financial services industry, but almost every other facet of our lives as we all seek the ability to research, purchase, connect and transact with the tap of a button.”
“In the spring, our desire for convenience through technology became a need when the outbreak of COVID-19 forced the closure of bank retail branches around the world, including our own,” according to the release. “During this time, customer reliance on digital channels like online and mobile banking and our network of ATMs increased — which also increased the level of comfort our customers have in using and expecting more from these channels.”
“To keep up with this ever-evolving trend and to provide our customers with greater access, convenience, control and flexibility, Northwest continues to invest heavily in alternative channels like online and mobile banking,” the release said. “In 2021, we will release enhancements to our digital experience, including improvements in account opening, person-to-person digital payments, budgeting tools, account alerts and card controls.”