FOSTER’S ANZ Bank branch will close down on March 5, 2020, mainly because of fewer people using the actual branch, according to the ANZ Banking Group’s Victoria and Tasmania general manager Michael Wake.
The bank’s Castlemaine branch in central Victoria will also shut that day.
The Foster branch’s three staff members were told of the closure on Thursday September 26, and a letter to the branch’s customers was posted the same day.
Two full-time jobs and one part-time position will be lost in Foster, though the ANZ Bank claims that it will help staff during the change and attempt to find them other jobs within the bank.
In a statement Mr Wake said “we apologise for the inconvenience we know this will cause some of our customers.
“Our decision to close Foster has been made due to the decreased number of customers using the branch in recent years,” he said.
“These decisions are never taken lightly. They are carefully considered, taking many factors into account including the potential impacts on our customers.
“Of customers who have Foster as their home branch, 68 per cent prefer online and mobile banking. This compares to 14 per cent who use the branch,” Mr Wake said.
“We have written to customers to outline alternative ways to do their banking in a way that best suits them and we have a number of options in place including online, telephone and mobile banking.
“ANZ is in discussions with branch staff and continues to support them through this adjustment, while making every effort to find suitable redeployment opportunities within the bank,” he said.
“Customers who prefer face-to-face banking can continue to use the Leongatha branch.”
Support Community Bank – O’Brien
Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien said “this is a very disappointing decision by the ANZ and will have an impact on the Foster community and local businesses.
“Foster has an older community, many of whom still like to utilise the branch service, and they will no doubt also be inconvenienced by this decision,” he said.
“I support a strong and stable banking system which includes successful major banks, but with ANZ posting a $6.4 billion profit last year and still making decisions to close branches in country towns like Foster – my patience has worn thin.
“We have a great local community bank branch and I strongly urge anyone who may be inconvenienced by this decision to consider moving their accounts to that branch,” Mr O’Brien said.
“This decision also makes it even more critical that Foster retains its existing businesses, in particular the 50-odd jobs that are provided through South Gippsland Water which must not proceed with any decision to leave the town.”
Businesses need face-to-face banking – Chamber
Foster Chamber of Commerce president Phil Rerden said the chamber members were “disappointed” to learn of the ANZ Bank’s decision to close its Foster branch because “businesses need face-to-face banking.
“The chamber is also concerned for others in the local community, for example older people, who also rely on face-to-face banking services,” he said.
“Those with business accounts at the ANZ will no longer have that important face-to-face interaction, including safety when depositing large amounts of cash, and the convenience of being able to get change for our cash registers.
“We understand that the ANZ Bank is planning to upgrade its automatic telling machine (ATM) in Foster so that it will accept deposits but that in itself presents a security issue,” Mr Rerden said.
“It seems as though we’re arcing back to the 1970s and night safes, when people got hit on the head while trying to bank their day’s takings.”
Mr Rerden said the chamber will be sharing with its members all information received about the ANZ Bank and making sure the members are prepared for the closure before it takes place.
“We are lucky in Foster because at least we still have some choices, such as the Bendigo Bank’s Foster Community Bank branch, which is a fantastic option, as well as the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Australia Post’s Bank@Post,” he said.
“I find it quite amazing that all of the major banks with the exception of ANZ put in funds to be part of Bank@Post some 12 months ago in order to keep looking after their customers, especially those in rural and regional Australia.
“The ANZ opted out of Bank@Post with the viewpoint that they could service their own customers in their own premises but closing the Foster branch rather flies in the face of that,” Mr Rerden said.
“I encourage all of the chamber’s business members to look at the other banking options within Foster.”