Do you know your bank manager? Do you even have one? If not, you're far from alone...

James Moore reports on a British institution that is facing extinction

During the past century, he evolved from an avuncular chap who invited you over for a glass of Christmas claret and steered you towards the best mortgage deal, to a shiny-suited salesman who'd steal your pension as soon as look at you. But is the bank manager now about to go the way of dinosaur, dodo and Amstrad e-mailer?

It could happen. And it's not just managers – bank branches are rapidly becoming an irrelevance, particularly to younger people. When vouchercloud.com surveyed 1,722 18- to 30-year-olds, a sixth said they had never been to a local branch. Of those, nearly half admitted that they had no idea where it is.

"It seems that a trip to the local bank may be a thing of the past," the company said of its findings, which came out of research into how this age group manages its personal finances. The slow demise of Captain Mainwaring, the famously grumpy bank manager of Dad's Army fame, started in the 1990s.

Ian Gordon, a banking analyst with Investec, was then working for one of the big banks. "I recall a purge of one-third of what we then used to refer to as branch managers," he says. "It was a function of efficiency drives prompted by the crushing of bank profits in the 1990s crash. Generally speaking, banks killed them off because they weren't needed so much."

This was partly driven by the rise of a sales culture that banks are now trying to eliminate, having been fined one too many times. It favoured a younger, more aggressive type of person who could "close".

David Buik, the veteran City commentator, is one of those who regrets this development, and the lack of communication that banks now have with customers as a result.

"I used to be called in to see my bank manager every six months. Usually, I'd be overdrawn, and I'd get a bollocking! But it was invaluable. The level of communication now is appalling."

Those managers that still exist, he says, do everything they can to avoid speaking to the public. In fact, this is a trend among big companies generally, as anyone who has tried to change their mobile phone, or sort out a malfunctioning broadband connection, can testify to.

"No manager wants to be spoken to. They want to deal with customers over the internet or email, and 'submit a request to head office and we'll let you know'," says Buik. "This has to stop."

But perhaps there is some hope for the David Buiks of this world. When those younger people in the survey start thinking about bigger financial commitments, such as mortgages, they may find that they want to seek out their branch – and bank manager.

But will branches themselves go the way of the bank manager? Barclays has been at the forefront of innovation when it comes to technology. Its Pingit mobile-phone money-transfer system been responsible for an 8 per cent fall in the number of people contacting call centres, let alone branches. In fact, its research shows that branch use is down 10 per cent in the last five years.

Barclays is now planning for a future where old-fashioned counter-style branches will cease to be required by its customers due to their increased reliance on mobile technology. But don't panic – it has realised that customers will still want to use branches when they need access to expertise.

"What technology is doing is freeing up our staff from handling transactions so that now they have the time to sit and talk to you, and help you with what you want to do as well as being available to teach our customers how to get to use the new technology," says a Barclay's spokesman.

So maybe a time-travelling Captain Mainwairing would have a future if he landed in modern Britain after all.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
News
A poster by Durham Constabulary
news
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Emily McDowell Card that reads:
artCancer survivor Emily McDowell kicks back at the clichés
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvBadalamenti on board for third series
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Standing room only: the terraces at Villa Park in 1935
football
Sport
Ben Stokes celebrates with his team mates after bowling Brendon McCullum
sportEngland vs New Zealand report
News
Amal Clooney has joined the legal team defending 'The Hooden Men'
people
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

    £40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

    Neil Pavier: Management Accountant

    £45,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you looking for your next opportunity for ...

    Sheridan Maine: Commercial Accountant

    £45,000 - £55,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ACA/ACCA/ACMA qua...

    Laura Norton: Project Accountant

    £50,000 - £60,000: Laura Norton: Are you looking for an opportunity within a w...

    Day In a Page

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine