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Local banks adjust to protect branch employees, customers

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Photo c/o WSFS Bank

On Friday, each WSFS branch with drive-thrus in Delaware and Pennsylvania practiced “Random Acts of Kindness” by inserting 20 $10 gift cards in customer’s receipts. Perhaps even better, each branch purchased those gift cards from local merchants.

“I think the businesses were even more excited about us purchasing the cards from them than the customers were,” WSFS spokesperson Rebecca Acevedo told Delaware Business Times.

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, Delaware banks and credit unions are generally closing their lobbies except for prior appointment or issues with an outside ATM, reducing hours, and having branch personnel work from home. In some cases, banks have closed some of their branches and widened their service areas. Even their community messages are pretty consistent as they talk about urging employees and customers to wash their hands, practice social distancing, and enhancing cleaning procedures with stronger disinfectant products on high-touch surfaces.

In most cases, branches are being staffed according to traffic with some employees working from home, and many are taking appointments for customers who want to do things like access safe-deposit boxes or close a loan. If a customer has a problem with the ATM, they can call the branch for help.

Here’s how some Delaware banks are balancing serving their customers and protecting their employees:

  • WSFS: 72 of 91 branches have drive-thrus, while the remaining 19 have ATMs that are offering cash withdrawals and taking deposits. There have been no layoffs, Acevedo said.
  • M&T Bank: “We are employing a modified service approach in our branches that will maintain customer service levels while limiting face-to-face interactions between our customers and employees,” a spokesman told DBT. “That approach considers several factors – including the physical characteristics of a branch, the needs of our customers, and the health and safety of both our customers and employees. As a result, some branches will remain open as usual, some will only be open by appointment inside the branch, and others will provide service through the ATM and drive-thru only. No matter which approach a particular branch takes, all M&T branches will operate in ways that support the day-to-day banking needs of our customers while promoting social distancing guidelines.” 
  • PNC: The bank has shut about a quarter of its branches while still ensuring branch access across its communities. PNC has set “consistent branch hours” for all open locations from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.
  • JPMorgan Chase: The bank is temporarily closing 20% of its branches, but none of those are in Delaware, Pennsylvania, or southern New Jersey. Branch advisors, financial advisors, small-business bankers, and home-lending advisors and began working from home last week. The remaining branches are operating business as usual but with reduced hours (9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
  • Fulton Bank: According to the bank’s website, all of its offices “remain ready to meet your financial services needs. However, we recommend that you fully utilize all of Fulton’s tools that enable you to bank remotely, without needing to visit a financial center.This will help minimize human contact and reduce the chances of passing the virus.”  
  • The Bank of Delmarva: All branches remain open, but lobbies are accessible by appointment only. President and CEO John Breda is “strongly encouraging” customers to use the bank’s website and mobile apps if at all possible.”

“Our member banks will continue to work with those experiencing financial difficulty as a result of coronavirus impacts, said Delaware Bankers Association President Sarah Long in a statement. “These initiatives vary by institution and depend on a customer’s individual circumstances. Banks of all sizes are also responding to the needs of individual and business customers directly impacted, while continuing to execute their own business continuity plans under challenging conditions. Banks stand ready to support the customers and communities they serve, as well as the broader economy and help the nation overcome this challenge.”

By Peter Osborne


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