29 February 2024

A recent report from Which? revealed that 5,791 bank branches have closed since 2015. That’s more than one a day.
Bucking the trend, Darlington Building Society is proudly committed to its local high streets and is committed to staying there.
Bank and Building Society branches play an important role on our high streets. For life’s bigger decisions, particularly in the wake of the pandemic, people want conversations with real people.

For more everyday needs, the traditional practice of putting cash into envelopes to pay for various life expenses has been reinvigorated by the younger generation. This requires bank and building society branches on the high street to withdraw and deposit cash.

Access to Cash has been on the Government’s agenda for several years now, with banks and building societies committing to preserving access to cash for individuals and small businesses alike.

Darlington Building Society has invested in a branch refurbishment programme, creating welcoming and modern spaces. In addition, the Society’s flagship Darlington branch, as well as its Bishop Auckland branch, were relocated to more prominent and accessible locations on their respective high streets.

Louise Thorpe, Distribution Director said:
“Branches play a massively important role in how people conduct their finances, whether they bank in person or online.

“Darlington Building Society is committed to its members and its local high streets, with nine branches and no plans to reduce that number. Quite the opposite. We are investing heavily in redefining our branches so that they continue to cater for the changing needs of wider society, whilst still providing traditional financial services in the local communities we serve.

“Beyond the transactional, during life’s more challenging times such as making arrangements in the event of bereavement, or implementing a Power of Attorney, we find these interactions work best in a face-to-face environment. The same can be said for life’s big decisions – we regularly receive feedback from people of all ages saying how much they valued the face-to-face experience when planning their savings goals, visiting our mortgage advisors or receiving independent financial advice in one of our branches.

“Of course, digital adoption features in the Society’s future, with significant investments already in place to deliver online banking for a smoother, faster service for members. Branches are used to sharing knowledge on digital servicing with our members, for example how to log into our online banking. We are a people-first Society, and as such our branches play an unequivocal role in our future.”

Beyond transactions, what else are branches used for?

• An ‘MOT centre’ for your savings. Speak to people about your financial goals and make sure your savings are working as hard as possible in the right type of account for your needs.

• Mortgages – whether you’re starting to save for your first home, looking to move or build your own home, or considering an investment property, grab a cup of tea and talk it through with dedicated in-house mortgage advisors.

• Pension planning – Independent financial advisors are on hand to help you with life’s big decisions, from retirement planning and inheritance tax to investments and tax planning.

• Community hubs – Darlington Building Society is hugely community-focused. At least 5% of its annual profits are donated to local charities and good causes, and it is partnered with numerous local charities who benefit from volunteering hours, grants and being able to share the Society’s space in branches for fundraising and other events.
Appointments required for some services.

Branches have played a key role in how the nation handles its finances for centuries. Like everything, the process adapts with time, but the need for branches remains consistent.