A dental care center, a children’s clothing store, an association: in all three cases, the premises housed, a few months ago, an agency of one of the major French banking networks.
These, to reduce their costs, therefore continue to close branches. But everyone assures us that there is no question of pushing the slimming cure too far, because neither the customers nor the banks are ready to completely do without a “physical” presence.
“We need agencies: for individuals, it is still a very valuable subject of ‘reinsurance’, it is moreover through this that we still win over the most customers, and for professionals, traders and craftsmen, contacts with a business manager are very frequent, so proximity is mandatory »summarizes Nicolas Draux, Retail Director of BNP Paribas.
France had 34,298 bank branches at the end of 2022, according to figures published on 1er June by the European Central Bank, i.e. 3.9% less than in 2021. A slightly less marked drop than that observed in the euro zone as a whole (–4.4%), which confirms that the Hexagon remains, with Spain and Italy, one of the best “equipped” countries on the continent. Conversely, Germany, despite a 22% higher population, has less than 21,000 branches.
Increase in attendance
Denser, the French fabric also seems to benefit from an upsurge in traffic: a study published on May 25 by the consulting firm Colombus Consulting in partnership with the Opinion Way institute shows that 72% of people questioned went to a branch in least once in 2022, a figure up four points compared to 2021, while it fell in previous surveys.
This reversal of trend at the time of the development of online banks and neobanks, Guillaume Larmaraud, in charge of financial services at Colombus Consulting, explains it in part by the context of inflation and rising rates: “Customers need to be reassured and more supported, and they express very individualized expectations, especially those under 35”he explains.
An observation shared by Eric Montagne, Deputy Managing Director responsible for the commercial division of BRED: “In recent years, studies have shown a drop of 6% to 7% in branch visits over the years, but in reality, “bank consumption” was changing: now customers no longer want to wait for a routine transaction, but conversely, they need, much more than yesterday, direct contact with an adviser to make a decision. »
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