Brexit is a nail in the high-street bank’s coffin
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Opinion

Brexit is a nail in the high-street bank’s coffin

Branch closures in the name of digitalization, on top of wider woes in the retail sector, could exacerbate the kind of community breakdown that led to Brexit.

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Opening a letter from Santander recently, for a moment I get a sense of the kind of popular outrage directed against London and its financial industry – even though the latter benefits me more than most.

My local bank branch, it seems, is closing.

I am subject to one of about 140 UK branch closures, about a fifth of the network, that Santander announced in January.

I picture the kind of boarded-up shopfront that is becoming all too familiar in the British high street. It’s a sad sight that will become more normal, I reflect, as the UK’s toxic political environment weighs more heavily on the economy and business investment: even if we avoid a disastrous no-deal Brexit.

The rage soon switches back to our politicians.

The next news I see is that shares are plummeting in Metro Bank. This is the challenger whose strategy is supposed to be a rare source of hope for those who want branches to remain a cornerstone of banks’ consumer businesses.

Metro’s sell-off is down to an accounting error over risks in its loan book, but also because of stubbornly low interest margins: made worse by a mortgage market now suffering from Brexit.




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