WSFS gets in front of issue of post-merger branch closings

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Good afternoon all,

WSFS deserves credit for its transparency in dealing with branch closings that will occur with the Beneficial merger.

About a quarter of all WSFS and Beneficial branches will be closed in 2019 and 2020. Most locations are a short distance from other WSFS and Beneficial branches, with the bulk of the closings occurring as Beneficial branches are changed over to the green color scheme of WSFS.

Delaware will see three branches shuttered in 2020, Pike Creek, University Plaza and Felton.

Wilmington-based WSFSmade the right move in offering jobs within its branch network to employees of the shuttered offices and in boosting the minimumhourly wage for Beneficial branch employees to $15 an hour. WSFS, with littlefanfare, had earlier boosted branch pay the $15 an hour mark.

Both WSFS and Beneficial had earlier indicated that natural turnover we are seeing in the current economy would minimize the effects of the office closings.

The merger comes with its share of challenges. One will come from a new information technology system designed to meet the needs of many customers who now live on their mobile devices and will also want faster moving options at the branch level. Rollouts of such systems are not a snap.

WSFS has also developed a distinct customer-focused culture that will need to be replicated across a much larger branch network while leaving room for Beneficial’s best practices.

The competition will be fierce, with other banks waiting for any hiccup in the integration of two banks of comparable size. Already, a few Beneficial loan officers have headed elsewhere.

Banking giant Chase has also entered the retail market in the Delaware Valley, with plans for dozens of branches.

WSFS comes with a number of strengths, including higher profitability than Beneficial. Replicating that success won’t be easy, but there is no turning back.

A final note

The holiday rush led to a delay in posting our weekly personnel news column. The last column for 2018 will return at midweek. – Doug Rainey, publisher

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