Tonawanda News

January 9, 2014

First Niagara making job cuts

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — First Niagara is cutting 170 jobs and closing 10 branches across its four-state territory as the bank adapts to how customers are using its services, the company said in a statement Wednesday.

Buffalo-based First Niagara has about 6,000 employees and 420 branches in total. Only one branch in Western New York is slated for closure, the Young Street branch in Wilson.

The bank is moving administrative duties out of its branches, a shift that led to the job reductions, according to Mark Rendulic, First Niagara’s executive vice president of retail banking.

In a statement, First Niagara said the affected employees were invited to apply for other First Niagara job openings. The bank says it is recruiting to fill more than 250 positions, while other laid-off employees will receive severance benefits. Impacted employees have already been notified.

First Niagara is adjusting to how its customers are using branches, mobile and online banking, phone services and ATMs, Rendulic said. More than 140,000 customers signed up for its mobile banking application in its first year and more than 40 percent of its 1 million customers are registered for online banking.

Basically, in-branch traffic is declining. So, First Niagara will increase its investment in its other banking avenues, such as online and mobile sites, the bank said.

“Technology is changing how people bank and we are committed to continue meeting our customers’ needs by evolving how we operate our branches and by further enhancing our online, mobile and telephone banking services,” Rendulic said. “Today, a majority of consumers prefer online, mobile and telephone banking for simple transactions or questions and branches for more complex transactions. Customers can count on First Niagara to provide them with the ability to bank when, where and how they find most convenient.”

The bank is also increasing its emphasis on “customer care representatives or universal bankers,” a term for versatile branch employees who are able to perform a variety of tasks, such as handling transactions and offering new products and services.