UPDATE: BoH will pull out of territory this coming year
After serving American Samoa for more than 40 years, Bank of Hawai’i is closing local operations “late in the first quarter 2013”, the Honolulu-based financial institution announced in a news release after 4p.m. yesterday.
The bank, which has a branch in Utulei and another in Tafuna, says it is working in cooperation with the American Samoa government to provide a smooth transition. The local operation has a workforce of 30 people and the bank has been part of the territory’s business community since 1969.
“After serving the American Samoa market for more than 40 years, this was a decision that was not made lightly,” said Hobbs Lowson, vice president and district manager for American Samoa.
“In 2000, we made the strategic decision to centralize our footprint back to our core Hawaii and Guam markets, but opted to also keep a presence in American Samoa, where we felt we could deliver the appropriate level of service,” he said. “However, it’s become increasingly difficult to maintain that strategy in American Samoa due to its geographic isolation from our other markets.”
Closure of BoH will leave only ANZ Amerika Samoa Bank in the territory and Lowson says, the advance public announcement gives BoH customers ample time to close or transfer accounts.
“We are working with local government officials and ANZ...to help ensure customers’ banking needs continue to be met. We will also work with any clients who wish to continue banking with us through our offices in Hawaii,” he said.
Customers who do not close or transfer their accounts prior to the branch closing will be mailed a cashier’s check for the balance in their account. Customers who have loans with Bank of Hawaii will be provided future payment instructions.
Arrangements will also be made for those customers who have safe deposit boxes.
According the BoH statement, separation benefits will be provided to employees and the benefits will include severance based upon years of service with the bank, outplacement services, access to the Bank’s Employee Assistance Program and health coverage through COBRA.
Employees wishing to stay on and work in other Bank of Hawaii locations will be afforded the opportunity to do so. “We want to thank our employees for their hard work in taking care of our customers; and we thank our customers and the community for the opportunity to serve them over the years,” said Lowson.