Local Bank Branches Continue to Disappear

The number of local bank branches continues to dwindle as big players like McLean-based Capital One Financial Corp. (NYSE: COF), Atlanta-based SunTrust Banks Inc. (NYSE: STI) and Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based BB&T Corp. (NYSE: BBT) cut dozens of branches, according to new data.

The D.C. metro area saw its overall number of bank branches drop by 57, from 1,549 to 1,492 from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019, according to an annual metro-area level snapshot by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The cuts are the latest in a multiyear trend of banks consolidating branches. Research shows these cuts tend to affect small business owners and people of color in ZIP codes without a robust network by limiting access to loans and the in-person guidance to help launch and grow businesses.

In 2012, the D.C. metro area had 1,774 branches, a number that has dropped annually since then even as new banks, such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. and others, continue to enter the local market.

And while SunTrust and BB&T might be on track to become one of the largest banks in the region when their $66 billion merger into Truist Bank is finalized later this year, both banks spent the last 12 months cutting their branches, according to the FDIC. SunTrust locations dropped from 152 to 137 — about 15 — from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019. BB&T dropped to 153, from 166 last year.

Capital One cut the most branches of any bank in the region, dropping 22 branches to just 104 in 2019, according to the FDIC. Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of Americathe No. 1 bank by local deposits, cut four branches last year, dropping to 149 locations around the D.C. metro area. Wells Fargo cut the same number, dropping from 160 branches locally to 156. Vienna-based United Bank dropped its branch network from 69 to 64.

Meanwhile, JPMorgan Chase & Co., which announced a multibillion-dollar expansion into the region in April 2018, grew from one branch to nine. The bank said it would ultimately open about 70 over the next few years stretching from Richmond to Baltimore — and we’ve mapped out all of its planned Greater Washington branches so far. Fairfax-based FVCBank grew from six branches to 10, while John Marshall Bank grew from six branches to eight, according to the FDIC.

Many banks held their branch numbers steady. PNC Bank, which has the most branches locally at 178, didn’t change its overall number. Smaller banks held steady as well, with Bethesda-based EagleBank at 20 branches, Sandy Spring Bank at 47 branches and Burke and Herbert Bank at 25.

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