Big bank branches closing in Lake Area - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Big bank branches closing in Lake Area

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

A lot of residents were surprised to see the branch of Capital One on Lakeshore Drive close, but it's not the only major bank in the area with branch closures. Experts say this is a problem, but it's nothing new. 

Iberia Bank is another one residents are losing. The Ruth Street branch will be the second one to close in Sulphur on October 4. 

Mike Harmison, the President of Lakeside Bank, has seen the banking climate change during his 46 years of experience, and he says a lot of national and regional bank branches have been closing in the area over the past few months. 

"It's basically because of the analytical ability of the individual banks to say this is what I need to return a profit on my investment," said Harmison. 

Harmison says if the branch is losing account holders and deposits, they must re-evaluate. 

"They also have taken the position, if we don't close the office, maybe we change the dynamics of the office and the structure," said Harmison. "Move more towards automation and less towards people." 

And that means more usage of ATMs and online banking, which a lot of residents prefer. 

"I do my banking online and I go to the ATM because it's more convenient for me," said one mobile banking user, Ebony Ryan. "I don't have to wait in the long lines." 

"I'd rather just do it online, so I go to the ATM, get my money and I'm out," said Hakeem Mitchell, another resident in favor of mobile banking. 

But there are still some who have other needs the apps can't satisfy. 

"I go in the bank to deposit checks, cash checks, open new accounts, and try to get info on my credit score, and I'm trying to buy a new house," said Miranda Ashton, who uses both apps and goes to the physical branch. 

There still are people visiting the branches, so the question remains: how are they losing business?

Harmison can't speak to why those particular branches closed, but says the expectations of the economy may be to blame. 

"You've got a lot of banks that have moved into this area to take advantage of that economic growth, and until we see all of that economic growth, you're just doing nothing more than slicing the pie into smaller increments," said Harmison. 

7News reached out to Capital One and Iberia Bank to comment on why the branches had to be closed. Iberia says they needed to consolidate, having 12 branches in the Lake Charles region.

Capital One released this statement:

"As Capital One continues to evolve and optimize our branch network in response to changing customer preferences and to ensure we’re operating as efficiently and effectively as possible, decisions are made to open, renovate, and in some instances, close or relocate branches.  

After a thorough review, Capital One made the decision to close the Lake Charles Downtown Branch at 1 Lakeshore Drive. The branch closed on June 23. This was a difficult decision and one that our bank leaders did not take lightly.

Customers were notified of the branch closure in March. There are no changes to customers’ accounts or their account numbers. As always, customers can visit any Capital One branch and receive the same level of account access and high quality service they’ve come to expect.

Lake Charles remains important to us, and we’re committed to providing the very best in banking products and services to our customers. Our small business and commercial customers will continue to be served by the same talented team of bankers who support the needs of businesses across the region."

Copyright 2017 KPLC. All rights reserved. 

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