Banking

Comerica to close 5% of its branches by fall

Comerica Inc. in Dallas, which has largely avoided the industry-wide trend of branch consolidation during the pandemic, will close 22 of its retail locations, or 5% of its existing footprint.

Eleven branches in Michigan, eight in Texas and three in California are expected to close by September, the $89.2 billion-asset bank said in a press release.

“The goal is to better accommodate flexible work arrangements, reduce our footprint, while maximizing locations that best serve our customers,” Megan Crespi, Comerica’s executive vice president, chief enterprise technology and operations services officer, said Monday in remarks at an industry conference.

Comerica, which primarily operates in Texas, Arizona, California, Michigan and Florida, had 435 branches in March 2020 and now has 432. It plans to close 22 more branches by September.

Bloomberg

Crespi cited the COVID-19 pandemic as a factor that hastened the changes. The branch closures are part of Comerica’s broader shift towards a “digital culture,” which includes investing in a cloud-first platform and closing data centers, she said. 

During the pandemic, U.S. banks have increasingly closed branches, accelerating a multi-year shift towards digital services. In 2021, U.S. banks broke the record for retail branch closures by 38%, S&P Global Market Intelligence found.

Over the last two years, Comerica has generally maintained its existing branch footprint. The bank, which primarily operates in Texas, Arizona, California, Michigan and Florida, had 435 branches in March 2020 and now has 432, according to spokesperson Nicole Idzi Hogan.

Comerica doesn’t expect staff layoffs as a result of the planned closures, Hogan said, adding that impacted employees will be reassigned to other locations and encouraged to apply for open positions across the company. 

The decision to close branches is part of a plan to streamline operations, pivot towards growth markets, and deepen relationships with target customer groups, including small businesses, Comerica said in a press release.

“Where demand is not as strong, we consolidate locations. We can then reallocate those resources to capture and serve our markets more effectively or expand into new areas,” Cassandra McKinney, executive director of Comerica’s retail bank, said in the press release.

Affected customers will be directed to nearby in-person branches, web or mobile banking apps, ATMs, and interactive teller machines, which are ATMs that offer real-time video chats with tellers.

Comerica said that it will hire more small-business bankers and retrain staff to provide knowledge more relevant to customers’ changing needs.

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