BANKS planning to close branches in Scotland could face “significant repercussions” from angry customers, according to the boss of a global market research company.

A new survey by Kantar TNS found more than one in five Scots would change their banking provider if their local branch closes. The study also shows 83% of people consider it important their bank provides a branch they can easily visit.

The findings follow the controversy over RBS’s proposals to close branches all over the country.

The closures have been partly blamed on the rise in online banking but the new study suggests closing branches is counterproductive, with young people in particular wanting access to face-to-face financial advice. Three quarters of 16-34s named this as a priority, in contrast to 63% of over 55s.

“The rate of account switching stood at 11% last year, but our research suggests this could almost double to 21% among those faced with their bank closing,” said Jim Eccleston of Kantar TNS. “This could have significant repercussions for those banks which are planning to close a number of branches across the country.”

“Some 83% of respondents said it was important that their bank provided a branch that they could easily visit and over half use a branch to access their main current account meaning accessible branches are still a key selling point. With 37% of customers in Scotland using their local branch at least once a month, it’s clear to see why there’s been such a furore over the proposed closures.”

He pointed out that the 21% of customers who said they would switch provider altogether if their branch closed was considerably more than the one in 10 who would use post office banking facilities or the 7% who would use a mobile branch.

“More than half of customers are still using branches for traditional services such as depositing money and paying in cheques,” he said.

“It is also clearly important to young people that they can access face-to-face guidance on financial matters so while mobile is becoming the accepted channel for transactional services, banks must be able to fulfil the need for personalised advice or they may be missing opportunities for customer retention and growth.”