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PECKFORD – You’re richer than you think.

“You’re Richer Than You Think.” Scotiabank had to know that someone would pick up on this catchphrase, which is part of its national advertising, especially in light of the announcement of bank closures in Newfoundland. For the eight Scotiabank branches that are closing, many employees won’t likely feel richer once the layoffs are complete. Likewise, customers in the affected communities won’t be persuaded by the bank’s popular slogan The Scotiabank branch in Port aux Basques was spared closure, at least for now. Unfortunately, the Burgeo location is closing. The southwest coast region seems well served by having three financial institutions located in Port aux Basques. There is also a credit union in Doyles. For Fogo, which lost its Scotiabank two years ago, they must have made the adjustment somehow since to date no other financial institution has come forward to replace its only bank. The other big banks are all adjusting their workforce with cuts not dissimilar to that of Scotiabank, although I have not heard of any other closures among them in Newfoundland. In most of the communities impacted, Scotiabank has had a long tenure. I recall from our family’s time in Lewisporte, that the Bank of Nova Scotia as it was then called, was a solid part of the community. Was there any other bank but the Bank of Nova Scotia? We knew the employees of the bank. A new branch manager coming to town was something to be noted. Going to work at the bank was a big deal. Many an executive in the higher echelons of the bank world often started their careers working in a small bank in Newfoundland. Out of the Scotiabank jobs to be lost, why the Bank chose to pick on these locations is a mystery to local residents. After all, Scotiabank has over 90,000 employees worldwide so the hundred or so jobs in these eight places is a drop in the bucket. You can be sure the Bank did its own analysis and these branches did not meet their operational cost criteria. It seems to me all eight are fairly centrally located within the province. They serve many outlying communities. Community leaders and business groups are vocal in their displeasure, but rarely does this make a difference. What will it do with their buildings is a good question. I understand the Fogo bank building was turned over to the community, but it sits empty right now. Zita Cobb, a local business woman and the prime mover behind the Fogo Island Inn, is quoted as saying that there are 62 businesses in Fogo that may need banking services. How loyal they remained to Scotiabank after it left is a good question? Finally, there is the matter of what model of banking service might exist for smaller markets like those being vacated by Scotiabank. Fogo and the other locations now on the chopping block think there should be an alternative. Obviously Scotiabank is bereft of any idea as it is just leaving town. Establishing a new bank service as part of a credit union expansion is expensive so there are limitations there. The older demographics of these communities limits a large take up of electronic/online services, as much as Scotiabank proclaims it’s an option. Older people, especially, like personal and in-person service. We will have to wait and see what transpires. It’s all part of the transition that is occurring on many levels in rural parts of the country.

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