BANKING is not what it used to be. Long gone are the days when you could have a cosy chat with your bank manager who would listen sympathetically to your financial needs.
How many of us actually know who our bank manager is? In fact, do bank managers exist anymore?
I pose these questions after the news, reported last week with further reaction this week, that HSBC in Axminster will be closing its doors in September with its customers being moved to the Chard branch.
HSBC say there is a reduction of 40 per cent in footfall across all branches, though they did not have any specific figures for Axminster.
I’ve been a customer of HSBC and its forerunner, The Midland Bank, for 50 years.
I suppose I’m fairly typical of your average bank customer these days - I rarely go into my bank, executing most of my transactions via the internet. I can’t remember the last cheque that I had to pay into my account and we are told that cheques will be eliminated completely within a few years.
There are fears that Axminster’s loss could be Chard’s gain as businesses switch across the Somerset border.
But it’s the older customers who will be most affected, those who do not have - or indeed want - access to the internet.
Some would argue that a small town like Axminster does not need five banks but how safe are the four remaining establishments? NatWest is closing their Lyme Regis branch. Will we be reporting on other closures in the coming months?
I wouldn’t put money against it.