The nation’s biggest banks have been quietly closing regional branches and cutting thousands of jobs.
3,000 branches were shuttered last year. And now, according to Kiplinger, “Banks are closing branches faster than they’re opening new ones.”
In October 2023 alone, The Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has already recorded 54 regional branch closures:
JPMorgan Chase, America’s biggest and wealthiest bank, closed 3…
US Bank shuttered 9…
Wells Fargo shut down 15…
Bank of America eliminated 21 branches in a single week.
And Forbes says, big banks “have collectively laid off over 20,000 employees, with more rumored to be on the way in the coming months.”
Why are so many bank branches closing?
Some analysts say it’s due to simple supply and demand.
With the rise of digital banking technology, customers can complete transactions with a simple click of a mouse or tap on a cell phone.
This means fewer people are relying on traditional brick-and-mortar banking.
Dwindling foot traffic means lower profits for regional branches. And without the deposit inflows and the ability to remain profitable, banks are restructuring to adjust.
In a company statement, Boston’s Santander Bank explained:
“Like many industries, our customers’ preferences have changed, with more customers choosing to bank with us online … Therefore, we are … refining our branch footprint, and increasing our investment in digital capabilities to align with the evolving needs of our customers.”
The question is:
Are all these closures only about digital banking and supply and demand shifts?
But whether that’s the cause or not, it’s important to remember:
The banking industry isn’t isolated.
The entire US financial system is intertwined.
This means macroeconomic troubles can affect the banking industry, and challenges in the banking system can ripple through the wider economy.
Research released by Epic Bankruptcy Analytics, for example, shows Chapter 11 commercial bankruptcies have jumped an eye-watering 61% year over year…
Small business bankruptcies soared 41%…
Consumer filings jumped 17%…
And American Bankruptcy Institute’s Executive Director, Amy Quackenboss, says it’s happening due to “rising interest rates, inflation and increased borrowing costs,” and “the numbers of filings demonstrate the difficult challenges and growing debt loads that financially distressed families and businesses are facing in this current economic environment.”
Meanwhile, despite these challenges, some mainstream news sources continue to bang the “all is well” economic drum.
Yes, inflation seems to have cooled down a little.
And some news reports seem to indicate a more positive economic outlook.
The many bank branch closures, commercial bankruptcies, small business bankruptcies and personal bankruptcies we’re seeing are more than line items in an official report.
When businesses close their doors — banks or otherwise — real jobs and incomes may be lost. And when real incomes are lost, real families may experience real financial challenges.
This is part of why taking steps to protect your wealth now is wise to consider, because…
“The shrinking of branch networks,” says The National Community Reinvestment Coalition, “threatens local economic activity.”
And this growing pressure on local economic activity…
Combined with the rising macro pressures of persistent high inflation, high interest rates, global geopolitical conflicts and more…
May mean what we’re seeing is more than a simple shift from traditional foot traffic to digital banking, and instead it may be a preview of much bigger economic challenges we all have to face.
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