PNC says it will close 280 branches by end of 2021 as customers go digital: American Banker

September 15, 2020.

PNC Financial Services Group will close 280 branches by the end of next year as customers increasingly rely on digital banking services, CEO William Demchak said at a conference Monday.

Speaking at Barclays Global Financial Services Virtual Conference, the CEO of the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based bank holding company said the company is on pace to shutter 160 branches this year and 120 in 2021, according to a report in American Banker. 

“You will see us continue to thin out our network,” said Demchak during his presentation, American Banker reported. “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 had 2,256 branches as of June 30, according to its most recent financial statement, a number which had dropped from 2,321 the previous year. Despite those closures, the company added retail banking employees over that same time period. The bank operates mostly on the East Coast and Midwest of the United States.

PNC lost $223 million in its retail banking division in the second quarter of this year after a string of previously profitable quarters for the division. The bank’s corporate and institutional wing also lost $358 million, after earning $602 million in the same period last year. PNC, the seventh-largest bank in the U.S., had $459 billion in total assets as of June 30. 

Branch closures have occurred throughout the pandemic, as banks scale back and shift to digital. Capital One is trimming 52 branches, and Northwest Bank said this week it would close 40 locations, and Wells Fargo has had a steady stream of layoffs and branch closures. 

Speaking at the same conference, KeyBank CEO Chris Gorman said that the shift to digital banking gives his bank “an opportunity to continue to ramp up” branch closures.

Demchak struck a similar note, saying that “What COVID has done for us is it has shown us where to prioritize investments.”