Citizens Financial Group laying off dozens of employees

Citizens Financial Group Inc. in Providence, R.I., is eliminating underutilized branches and laying off dozens of employees across its 12-state market area as part of a broader effort to trim overhead and improve efficiency.

The $131 billion-asset parent of RBS Citizens, Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania and Charter One Bank, said Friday that is adjusting its branch structure to reflect the fact that more and more of its customers are doing their banking online or at automated teller machines.

"Depending on the needs of local markets, these adjustments include the opening of new branches, the consolidation of branches and the expansion of branch hours," company spokesman Jim Hughes said. "We also have consolidated some functions and reduced spending to make our operations more efficient given the reality of today's economy."

Hughes did not say where or how many branches would be closed, but the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on its web site Saturday that nine of the branches are in Greater Philadelphia.

Many of the employees affected by the closures will be moved to other Philadelphia-area branches, though it is expected that some customer-facing and back-office positions will be eliminated. In all, Citizens, a unit of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, is laying off roughly 250 employees companywide, Hughes said.

"Some of these changes are difficult, but they are a necessary part of our commitment to continue investing in our ability to meet the needs of our customers," Hughes said.

Banks of all sizes have been handing out pink slips of late as loan demand has remained weak and new regulations have crimped revenues from fees. They include the nation's four largest banking companies, Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Wells Fargo & Co., which have all announced rounds of layoffs in recent weeks.

Source: American Banker