Amid a demoralising wave of bank branch closures, the latest television advert from building society Nationwide has provided some cheer.

This advert portrays Dominic West as a boss at "A.N.Y. Bank".

The smoothie-drinking executive asks his assistant, played by comedian Sunil Patel, to expense a giant lunch receipt, declaring with a laugh: “I think we broke the company record.”

The executive, strolling around a vast office, goes on to declare: “Anyway, cutbacks. Initial thoughts - downsizing. I could make do with this office here I suppose but that big space downstairs - it’s a bit over-indulgent nowadays, isn’t it?”

It turns out that the “big space downstairs” to which he is referring is the branch.

When the assistant points out to the executive that Nationwide is not closing branches, the executive goes on to mimic disparagingly a customer he saw one time he went into an A.N.Y. Bank branch and cites “chatbots” as a solution for anyone who has lost their life savings.

The advert concludes with Nationwide's declaration: “Unlike the big banks, we’re not closing our branches. Nationwide - a good way to bank.”

If you go back far enough, Royal Bank of Scotland (now NatWest) was making positive noises about branches not being closed.

However, those days are long gone, with this institution having taken the axe to its branch network in recent years in a way that would have seemed inconceivable even a decade ago.

In recent years, all of the big banks have been closing branches in very large numbers so Nationwide’s current stance certainly does stand out.

And Nationwide is highlighting numbers showing it now has the largest number of branches in the UK - “more than any other banking brand”.

It notes it had 605 branches as of October 1, ahead of Lloyds Bank on 598 and NatWest on 485.

It is worth observing that this table counts branches by brand rather than ownership. For example, taking Lloyds Banking Group’s Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Bank of Scotland branches together, it would be way ahead of Nationwide.

Having said that, the figures are nevertheless eye-catching.

Debbie Crosbie, chief executive of Nationwide, said: “Nationwide provides the face-to-face service that people value and need. We’re the large-scale alternative to shareholder-owned banks and now we have the biggest branch network too. Our branches are busy and we’re an important part of local communities.”

It is worth noting Ms Crosbie was a senior executive at Clydesdale Bank when it was closing significant numbers of branches.

That said, she is highlighting Nationwide, a mutual, as the “large-scale alternative to shareholder-owned banks”.

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Clydesdale, now part of the stock market listed Virgin Money, was shareholder-owned throughout the many years Ms Crosbie was there. The operation was under the long-term ownership of National Australia Bank, before being listed in its own right on the UK stock market, initially under the CYBG name.

Nationwide is certainly making one very good case for mutuality with its strategy of keeping branches open.

It has over the years tended to look like one of the better providers when it has come to its behaviour on interest rates on savings and lending.

Consumer group and ratings provider Fairer Finance noted this week that Nationwide was bucking the trend, in a good way, when it came to customer trust in institutions with a high street presence relative to the consumer view of challenger banks.

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James Daley, managing director of Fairer Finance, said: “Trust in the banking sector has been on a slow road to recovery over the last 15 years. Mis-selling scandals and the credit crunch drove trust in the sector to all-time lows in the early part of the millennium. But better regulation and a more competitive sector [have] seen a steady improvement in recent years.

“However, it’s likely that we are now at the peak, with sky-high mortgage rates and rising repossessions starting to have a negative impact on customer perceptions of the sector."

He added: "There’s also a widening split between perceptions of the new batch of challenger banks and the established high street brands, meaning the big five will need to continue to work harder to stop losing market share.

“Nationwide, the UK’s largest building society, is the only brand to be bucking this trend - with its customer trust scores well ahead of any other brand with a high street presence.”

On the branches front, Nationwide noted it had recently renewed its “branch promise to not leave any town or city in which it is based until at least 2026 - in sharp contrast to mass bank closures up and down the country in recent years”.

It added: “Nationwide’s stance on branches, in tandem with significant closure programmes, means it has now surpassed even the biggest of banks on the Great British high street.”

Nationwide’s research shows 63% of people value their local branch, with “face-to-face service” given as the top reason.

The building society quite rightly observes that “branches are also integral to helping people with more complex issues”.

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As an example, it notes that, between January and July, Nationwide branch staff prevented customers from losing more than £4 million to “fraudsters and scammers”.

It observes that one in four savings accounts are opened in branch, based on its data for September, “with account openings higher than at any point since 2015”.

You would hope that keeping branches open, rather than taking choice away from customers and dictating how they should conduct their banking, would benefit institutions such as Nationwide which choose this stance.

The data on account openings suggest that this may well be the case.

Particularly given the acceleration of bank branch closures in recent times by the big stock market listed institutions, which looks to be entirely about cost-cutting, Nationwide’s position is a real breath of fresh air.

Long may it continue.