HSBC considers charging for current accounts

HSBC has warned that it could start charging for “basic banking services” in some countries after reporting a 35% drop in quarterly profit.

With its earnings hit by very low interest rates, the bank is weighing up other ways of generating income.

Chief financial officer Ewen Stevenson told Reuters: “We will have to look at charging for basic banking services in some markets, because a large number of our customers in this environment will be losing us money.”

Current accounts are free to UK customers, and a spokesman later told the BBC that the bank was committed to continuing to provide free “basic bank accounts” in the UK.

They added, however: “We always keep under review the pricing for our standard current accounts and associated services.”

HSBC also plans to accelerate its restructuring, which includes job cuts and an overhaul of its US business. It has already cut around 6,000 jobs this year, including contractors, and is expecting a total reduction of 10,000 by the end of the year, Stevenson said.

The bank reported pre-tax profit of $3.1bn (£2.4bn) for the third quarter, down from $4.8bn (£3.7bn) in the same period last year, while revenues declined 11%.

Lloyds staff to work from home until ‘at least spring’

Employees at Lloyds Banking Group who are currently working from home as a result of the coronavirus pandemic will be asked not to return to the office until at least next spring.

The group — which includes Halifax, Bank of Scotland and Scottish Widows as well as Lloyds Bank — has 65,000 staff.

Two thirds of these employees are reported to be working from home at the moment, although staff continue to serve customers in high street bank branches.

“In line with guidance from the UK and national governments, and given the majority of our colleagues are working from home, we have asked them to continue to do so until at least spring,” a spokesperson for Lloyds Banking Group said in a statement.

Other financial services groups have made a similar decision.

Barclays has said that “hundreds” of UK staff previously asked to go back to the office will now be asked to work from home again, while NatWest has told the majority of its staff to work from home until some time next year.

And auditor and consultancy firm Deloitte has announced that it will not renew leases at four of its offices, giving 500 staff the opportunity to switch to remote working on a permanent basis.

TSB announces branch closures as more customers bank online

TSB is to close a third of its branches and cut around 900 jobs, citing a change in customer behaviour with a “marked shift to digital banking”.

Fewer customers are using branches and there has been a significant acceleration in digital adoption, the bank said in a statement.

“We are reshaping our business to transform the customer experience and set us up for the future,” said Debbie Crosbie, chief executive of TSB. “This means having the right balance between branches on the high street and our digital platforms, enabling us to offer the very best experience for our personal and business customers across the UK.”

TSB is planning to close 164 branches in 2021, in addition to a further 21 closures before the end of 2020. At the end of next year it will have 290 branches, down from the current network of 475.

Most of the job losses are expected to to come from voluntary redundancy.

The announcement was criticised by trade union Unite, whose national officer Dominic Hook said: “Unite has argued for some time that the financial services industry has a social responsibility not to walk away from its local customers who continue to need access to banking in bank branches.

“It beggars belief that just seven years ago TSB had 631 local branches and this announcement will reduce that number to merely 290 branches.”

The locations of the latest branches earmarked for closure have not yet been announced, but will be available at https://www.tsb.co.uk/our-branches/ after impacted employees have been informed.

On average the branches are less than 0.3 miles to the nearest post office and under 0.1 miles to the nearest free ATM, the bank said.

“Alongside these changes, we will continue to invest in our remaining branch network to offer high quality banking services, fully integrated with improved digital capability,” said TSB’s customer banking director, Robin Bulloch.

“We are working to ensure the transition towards digital — which is being seen right across the economy — is handled sensitively and pragmatically for our colleagues and customers. We’re taking steps to support vulnerable customers and those in rural locations.”