GUYSBOROUGH – Guysborough residents found out last week that, once again, hours will be reduced at the only brick-and-mortar financial institution in the community, the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) on Main Street.
Earlier this year, bank hours were cut to five per day, five days a week. As of July 31, the bank will reduce front-line service to three days a week – Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday – from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Journal spoke to Todd Strickland, RBC’s regional vice president-Cape Breton and North East Nova Scotia, on July 7 about the cut to service.
Strickland said the change was based on employee and client feedback. The days chosen for front-line service took into consideration that Mondays are more often holidays than any other day of the week, and that Fridays tend to be the busiest days in the branch. He also pointed out that many customers in the Guysborough area take advantage of telephone and online banking services.
“We continue to remain in the community, want to stay in the community, want to service the community, want to be a partner with the community but, at the same point, we’re no different than any other business in the sense that after COVID, we still have to look after our staffing and look at staffing demands. We look at our client demands; we look at client traffic. It’s a fact of continuing to optimize our schedule to be able to meet the needs of our clients but, at the same point in time, be able to meet our other needs and goals internally as well. There’s always that balance,” said Strickland.
He concluded, “There’s no plan to close the Guysborough branch. We’re still invested in the community.”
The Municipality of the District of Guysborough’s Warden Vernon Pitts isn’t satisfied with RBC’s level of investment. He told The Journal on July 5, “I’m very disappointed in their level of service…There’s not a heck of a lot we as a municipality can do. We don’t do the majority of our banking at the Royal Bank. We went out to tenders a while back, were open to all banking institutions and the Royal Bank, they weren’t successful. It’s the cost of doing business.”
At a time when business in Guysborough is booming, with many new projects coming online, a reduction in banking hours seems inopportune. But, Pitts said, “This may be the perfect opportunity for another institution to come into the municipality and drive the Royal Bank out. They’re not above being threatened by another financial institution and there are lots out there. We could look at a credit union. We could look at the CIBC, Bank of Montreal in Canso. There are numerous options out there. Let’s just see how they [RBC] play their cards. They made their next play, apparently – two days [reducing operation to three weekdays]. Let’s see what happens.”