The Laurentian Bank is making drastic changes over the next 18 months.

It announced Wednesday it will be closing 50 bank branches and laying off 300 staff members in the next year and a half.

Banks in and around Montreal on Wednesday were closed for most of the day as staff attended a meeting at the Palais des Congres in downtown Montreal.

President and CEO Francois Desjardins said bank branches were becoming obsolete, and the bank has to change to "optimize our operating efficiency, while meeting the changing demands of our customers."

According to Desjardins, that means focussing on financial advisors and account managers, and cutting down on the range of products offered.

Several employees, such as Hani Moalem, agreed with the idea.

"I don't think it's a bad thing because if you want to stay competitive compared to other banks we have to go on this path," said Moalem.

Employees were told that most of the jobs would be eliminated through attrition.

The Laurentian bank currently has 148 branches and 3631 full-time employees.

In August the bank announced it is merging all its corporate offices at a new location at E-Commerce Place (CCE) on René Levesque Blvd.

The bank's executives recently proposed eliminating bank tellers in order to focus on Investment counseling

The union opposed the plan and it was rejected by the Canada Industrial Relations Board.

"They have to suspend all projects that they've tried to implant without negotiating with the union," said Cioffi.

Still, the union believes that once the collective agreement expires at the end of 2017, the Laurentian Bank will once again try to wipe out customer transaction services.