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Coutts, The Post Office Unite

Jackie Bennion, Deputy Editor, 14 July 2020

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It is fair to say that the London-based private bank is going the extra mile by offering clients in smaller communities everyday banking through thousands of UK Post Offices.

Beginning this week Coutts customers can do their banking at any of the UK’s 11,500 UK post offices. The private bank told this service that the decision was made well before the health crisis and driven by customers based on using the commercial arrangement the bank already has with NatWest and RBS, Coutts' parent.

Joining the Post Office Banking Framework gives Coutts customers access to the UK’s largest retail network, providing roughly 22,000 banking locations, including the NatWest/RBS branches and ATMs. The arrangement also extends access to 6,000 Post Office branches in rural areas, with a sizeable number open longer hours and during the weekend at a time when high street banks have been consolidating and closing branches. Coutts says it will be the 30th financial institution to join the framework already used by the high street banks, neon banks and credit unions for daily transactions. 

With some evidence that the health crisis and remote working over the past five months has driven more wealthy residents out of big cities and into rural towns and villages suggests that access to the Post Office network is useful and well-timed. Research indicates that 90 per cent of the UK population lives within a mile of a post office, and the whole population within three miles.

In a call to WealthBriefing, Coutts said its customers are changing. “They are younger, start-up entrepreneurs, digital-influencers. There is still a charm about coming to London to the Strand to meet with your private banker, but we need to be quick in being there for clients wherever they are, and this is an extra bolt on to that."

Entrepreneurs are a growing portion of business for one of the country's oldest banks. Around 80 per cent of its clients are based outside London.

COO James Clarry said there are plenty of clients using its digital services “but many continue to prefer the ability to engage face-to-face in their own communities.”  The deal means that we can “continue to be as accessible as possible for our clients, in ways that suit them best,“ Clarry said. NatWest and RBS customers are already making around £350 million ($441 million) in withdrawals and deposits each month in local communities, according to Coutts.

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