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USAA to close Columbus financial center on Veterans Parkway

USAA executives and employees cut the ribbon for the financial center’s grand opening on Veterans Parkway in Columbus on Jan., 10, 2014. The center had a soft opening in December 2013. The office is now preparing to close its doors for good.
USAA executives and employees cut the ribbon for the financial center’s grand opening on Veterans Parkway in Columbus on Jan., 10, 2014. The center had a soft opening in December 2013. The office is now preparing to close its doors for good. rtrimarchi@ledger-enquirer.com

Less than three years after opening its Columbus financial center to serve more than 60,000 military-related residents in the area, San Antonio-based USAA said Thursday it will close the office at 6501 Veterans Parkway next April.

The 5,000-square-foot location near Columbus Park Crossing on the city’s north side will be among 17 of the company’s 21 centers shuttered because nearly all of its 11.7 million members are using a computer or mobile apps to conduct transactions.

“We had more than a billion interactions with our members through digital channels in 2015. But only 2.5 percent of our members are using the financial centers,” said Matt Hartwig, USAA’s communications director.

“What we noticed with our members when we were looking at it was the number one reason they came to centers were for the ATMs,” he said, stressing that the company has pledged to double the number of ATMs in the areas in which it is vacating a physical presence. USAA has paid affiliations with various financial institutions across the U.S., allowing members to withdraw cash and make deposits at no charge to them.

“Ninety-nine percent of what you’re able to do at one of our financial centers you’re able to do on the mobile app or online,” Hartwig said. “That goes back to listening to our members and hearing them tell us that with increasing frequency they’re turning to digital channels to interact with USAA.”

(USAA cuts ribbon on Columbus financial center, targets military-related consumers)

USAA opened its Columbus financial center in December 2013. The location has nine employees, who are among the 140 total staffers affected by the 17 branch closures.

Hartwig said the company hopes to retain as many of the 140 workers as possible beyond next April’s closures. He said retention bonuses and relocation support will be offered to those interested in other job opportunities within USAA.

“We’re not laying off these employees. We’re trying to find how we can redeploy their talent throughout USAA beyond the closings,” he said.

USAA, known as United Services Automobile Association, was founded in 1922 by a group of Army officers who decided to insure themselves because they were considered too much of a risk by other insurance companies at the time. Today, it serves all active-duty military, retirees, veterans and family members.

Historically known for its auto and home insurance products, about 30 years ago it entered financial services and now makes home and auto loans, along with everyday transactions such as deposits and withdrawals.

The financial centers being spared, Hartwig said, are the one at USAA’s campus headquarters in San Antonio and offices in Annapolis, Md., West Point, N.Y., and Colorado Springs, Colo. Those are the cities in which the Navy, Army and Air Force academies are located.

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