- PNC is on track to close almost 160 branches this year and 120 more in 2021, William Demchak, the bank's chairman and CEO, said Tuesday at the Barclays Global Financial Services Conference. The bank reported 2,256 branches in its last quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
- The bank has long had a goal to reduce its physical footprint. Dawn Fabian, PNC's retail transformation manager, said in November branch consolidation would likely become "more aggressive," with 80 to 100 per year expected over the next five years. The bank announced 29 branch closures in August alone.
- The coronavirus is pushing several banks to shift focus toward their digital efforts — and, in many cases, away from branches. KeyBank CEO Chris Gorman said Monday at the same conference that the pandemic has accelerated his company's digital transformation by five years, giving the bank an "opportunity to continue to ramp up" branch closures — though he didn't put a target number on the effort.
Demchak said PNC had planned to close 80 to 90 branches this year, but the pandemic has hastened those efforts.
"You will see us continue to thin out our network," he said, according to American Banker. "For that to work, your digital sales have to pick up at a pace that offsets the sales you would get at the branches you are closing. So far, that is happening and then some."
PNC has opened what it calls "solutions centers" in place of some branches in cities such as Houston, Dallas, Nashville and Kansas City. Customers there can still contact bank employees and access ATMs, mobile workstations and banking kiosks. The bank plans to open 12 more this year and 25 next year, Demchak said.
Even before the pandemic, Fabian said the bank was in the "consolidation business," closing an average of 50 to 70 branches a year. Then, the strategy was "to look for spaces where the traffic flow is going to be the optimum for growth," Fabian said. "So we're doing a lot of two-for-one consolidation, or three-for-one, really trying to move the needle on getting into the best retail locations."
The bank, at the time, was also piloting a "cashless bank" program, involving 26 branches in eight markets, where cash handling and teller duties would be done through an ATM, with the exception of cashier's checks.
"What COVID has done for us is it has showed us where to prioritize investments," Demchak said.
Despite its effort to shrink its physical footprint, PNC has been transparent on its hope to use a windfall it gained from selling off its stake in BlackRock in May to pursue a deal to vault the bank past $700 billion in assets.