Over the next 18 months, Laurentian plans to overhaul how it serves retail clients. It will merge 50 of its branches, going from 150 to 100, the bank says in its Q1 2017 release.
“One branch was merged in December 2016, while 33 branches will be merged at the end of April 2017, and another seven branches [will merge] at the end of June 2017,” the bank says.
Plus, “Twenty-three branches will become advice-only at the end of April 2017 […] These actions are in line with customer preferences toward online banking over branch visits. The bank’s physical branch network is evolving and will be more focused on delivering financial advice to customers seeking to improve their overall financial health.”
In the bank’s earnings release, François Desjardins, chief executive, highlights the integration of CIT Canada into LBC Capital, and the bank’s continued focus on its retail activities.
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Laurentian reports 20% growth in assets under management between 2016 and 2017, according to its report to shareholders. For the quarter ended January 31, 2017, the bank reports AUM of $3.72 billion compared to $3.1 billion a year earlier.
Laurentian’s net income for the quarter was $48.5 million, compared to $42.7 million in the same quarter a year earlier, while diluted EPS was $1.30 versus $1.36 a year earlier.
The bank’s move is on trend with wider industry changes. During a recent Q1 earnings conference call, RBC discussed how it plans to more efficiently serve customers. RBC isn’t abandoning traditional bank branches, but it’s steadily replacing such locations with smaller, “technology-enabled branches” based on people’s growing reliance on mobile transactions.
Dave Nugent, chief investment officer of robo-advisor Wealthsimple, at an industry event in Toronto this month, said he foresees fewer advisor offices as clients ask for fewer face-to-face meetings and banks streamline services. Already, he said, several big financial firms were moving to “service desks,” run by two or three salaried people for smaller-account clients.
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