BY Benjamin ClarkJune 13, 2024
1 month ago
BY 
 | June 13, 2024
1 month ago

Regional Bank Announces Closure of 22 Branches Following Merger

Provident and Lakeland banks are set to merge in a bold consolidation move, prompting the closure of 22 branches.

Daily Mail reported that the $1.3 billion merger has sparked concerns over reduced access to banking services, particularly in undersourced areas.

In September 2022, Provident Bank and Lakeland Bank announced a significant merger agreement. The move, valued at roughly $1.3 billion, has led to a strategic decision to streamline its services across New Jersey.

This decision involves the closure of 22 overlapping branch locations, where Provident and Lakeland often have presences on the same street. According to the banks, these locations are redundant, and the closures aim to eliminate inefficiencies.

A planned relocation for affected customers

The banks have ensured that the transition for customers affected by the closures will be smooth.

Every closing branch has a designated alternative Provident location, none more than three miles away, to which customers are being directed.

On their website, Provident Bank explained, “A careful and thorough review of our combined branch network was undertaken, and we have decided to close either a Provident branch or a Lakeland branch in cases where a single location can serve all of our customers.”

This move reflects a larger trend in banking, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The push towards digital banking has seen a drastic reduction in physical branch numbers nationwide.

Statistics indicate a decrease of approximately 13,000 bank branches in the last decade from a peak of over 85,000 in 2011.

Community concerns over bank branch closures

However, the closure of these branches has not been without criticism. Activists and community leaders express concerns about the potential negative impacts on local access to banking services.

Leila Amirhamzeh, director of development at New Jersey Citizen Action, emphasized the reliance on local bank branches for many individuals. Speaking to NorthJersey.com, she said, “A lot of individuals only access financial services through their local bank branches.”

She further stressed the equality impact of such closures, stating, “Any branch closure is going to impact the community. It does present an issue around equality in terms of accessing basic financial services.”

Looking to the future

As the banking landscape continues to evolve, many industry observers see the transition to digital platforms as inevitable. Just earlier this year, approximately 80 bank branches across the U.S. were closed within six weeks.

The trend is clear, but the question remains of how banks like Provident will balance operational efficiency with community banking needs, especially in underserved regions.

Provident is focused on enhancing its digital services while ensuring displaced customers find convenient alternatives to their closed branches. They assert that merging resources and consolidating branches is a strategic move to streamline operations and improve customer service in the long term.

Conclusion

The merger between Provident and Lakeland banks, culminating in the closure of 22 branches, marks a significant point in the ongoing transformation of the banking industry.

Provident Bank’s efforts to redirect affected customers and the broader industry trends reflect a critical period of adaptation and change in the financial sector.

While the shift towards more digital banking solutions continues, the emphasis remains on ensuring that this transition does not alienate those who depend on traditional banking services.

Written by: Benjamin Clark

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