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Technology prompts Westpac overhaul

Date

Clancy Yeates

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Branch overhaul... Westpac has unveiled new technology-driven design for its branch network.

Branch overhaul... Westpac has unveiled new technology-driven design for its branch network. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Westpac is spending $240 million on an overhaul of its branch network in response to sweeping technological change, in a move that will cut the number of staff and floor space in affected branches.

With fewer customers carrying out transactions in person, the change will involve the gradual phasing out of well-known features from bank branches, such as security screens and piles of printed brochures.

Instead, the bank plans to encourage customers to conduct more of their everyday banking - such as depositing cash or cheques - through machines.

The change, which will initially be rolled out across new premises, is expected to affect about a third of 680 banks that carry the Westpac brand across the country over the next three years.

In suburban Brisbane, where Westpac unveiled the change on Monday, chief executive Gail Kelly said it was part of the bank’s strategy to better connect with local communities.

Under the change, new Westpac branches will no longer feature tellers working behind security screens.

Instead, each branch will include a section with "smart" automatic teller machines, open 24 hours a day. Smart ATMs are designed to allow people to carry out a broader range of transactions, such as depositing or changing cash or depositing cheques.

For people who would still rather talk to a staff member, terminals will be set up that allow people to conduct transactions in person, but they will be able to stand opposite their banker at a desk, rather than talking through a security screen.

The head of Westpac’s retail and business bank, Jason Yetton, said there would be fewer tellers in banks affected by the change, but there would also be more highly-skilled advisory staff.

"The advent of mobile banking, first through smart phones and now tablets, has completely altered the way our customers bank with us and as a result they want more advice from our staff about how to get the most out of their finances and how to plan for the future," Mr Yetton said.

Mr Yetton said the changes would not reduce the overall number of Westpac branches, but it would focus more on locating them in growth areas, such as regions benefiting from the mining boom.

While the move is being pitched as a way to provide better services to customers, it is also intended to save the bank money.

Mr Yetton said the new branches would require about 30 per cent less floor space, saving the bank on the costs of occupying a maintaining branches.

The bank says the changes will also improve security for customers and their staff, because cash will automatically be deposited directly into safes with a time-lock.

The reporter travelled to Brisbane courtesy of Westpac.

4 comments so far

  • Another way for the banks to retrench staff and boost their bottom line.

    Commenter
    Peter
    Date and time
    December 11, 2012, 9:36AM
    • Here we go again: not lending any money so revenues go down. To maintain their ever increasing profit margin Westpac must cut costs. Seen it all before. $240m spent, yes, but how much will be saved with the retrenchments? My guess is that will be well in excess of $240m. This is nothing to do with better and more modern service for customers - it's about maintaining excessive bonus for senior management. They take us for fools.

      Commenter
      Al
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      December 11, 2012, 11:37AM
      • upgrade all there systems, so they are compliant with offshore vendors to outsource there I.T.... Great move

        Commenter
        BIGFELLAOI
        Date and time
        December 11, 2012, 5:43PM
        • Quote "This is nothing to do with better and more modern service for customers - it's about maintaining excessive bonus for senior management. They take us for fools." Absolutely! I work for this mob and can tell you there is a big disconnect between what the CEO sprouts to the public and what the Bank's actually does. To give you an idea, we have just had our 10 y.o PC's upgraded but most of the major back office software is based on Internet Explorer 6 which is no longer supported by Microsoft. Another classic is that Westpac supports their customers in the good and bad times....yea. Just ask any client who has hit a rough patch in the last few years!

          Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/it-pro/business-it/technology-prompts-westpac-overhaul-20121211-2b6g1.html#ixzz2EjnchUeG

          Commenter
          Tired Banker
          Location
          Sydney
          Date and time
          December 11, 2012, 9:31PM

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