Page 6 - BusinessWest May 13, 2024
P. 6

The Environment Has Shifted Profoundly
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Tom Senecal used some hard numbers to detail what is per- haps the biggest change in the banking industry over the past four decades.
“Over my career, people have always been talking about how branches were dying or how we wouldn’t need anymore. But for small community banks or community banks in gener- al, a physical presence will always be
a necessity.”
   “In 1985, there were 18,400 banks
in this country,” said Senecal, chair-
man of Holyoke-based PeoplesBank.
“We are now down to 4,600; we’ve
lost 13,000 banks in those 40 years.
Credit unions ... there were around
12,000; now they’re down to 4,200,
so they’ve lost more than 7,000. In
Massachusetts and Connecticut, there
were 230 banks in 1985; I think we’re
down to 130, and we expect to be down to 80 by 2030.”
That consolidation, brought on by many factors, but especially the higher cost of doing business and shrink- ing margins, has changed the local landscape in all kinds of ways, including commercial real estate, with dozens of former bank buildings and offices given over to new uses, from jewelry stores to cannabis dispensaries.
Indeed, it would take quite a bit of space in this story
to list all the banks that were here 40, 30, or 20 years ago that aren’t here anymore. Just a partial list would include, on the larger-institution side, Bank of New Eng- land, Springfield Institution for Savings, and BayBank (names and letters that were once on office towers in downtown Springfield), and also Shawmut, Fleet, and BankBoston. On the smaller, community-bank side, Hampden, Heritage, Chicopee Savings, United, Worono-
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