THE future of banking design will completely change direction if security recommendations issued yesterday by the Hong Kong Association For Banks are adopted by all its members. Fierce competition to attract customers has promoted an increase in ''user friendly'' open plan banks in the past few years. But in the wake of Thursday's violent armed robbery and the recent surge in armed holdups, members of the banking community concede that atmosphere may have to be sacrificed to ensure safety. Association secretary Phillip Martin last night confirmed that a recommendation that members review the security of open plan design was tabled at a committee meeting yesterday. ''We tabled a recommendation which stressed the need for members to look seriously at reviewing the security risks associated with open plan banking halls,'' he said. ''A circular outlining the association view that a review of open plan design is necessary will also be sent to each member. ''There are also other security measures, which for obvious reasons I can't disclose, which have been recommended for adoption. ''Our intention is to improve the security and safety of banks operating in Hong Kong and hope, by continuing to work closely with the police Crime Prevention Bureau, we will achieve this goal,'' Mr Martin said. Chase Manhattan Bank will meet crime prevention officers on Monday to see whether security needs to be improved following Thursday's robbery. Spokesman Grace Ng Pou Ho-yee said the bank would review the open plan design of most of its nine branches. ''We are studying the pros and cons of such a design. So far, we have not yet reached a conclusion as to whether open plan is indeed an open invitation to crime, as each bank is a target. ''As far as we are concerned, security at our branches is adequate,'' she said. Governor Chris Patten yesterday agreed that measures needed to be taken to enhance the security of open plan banks. Praising the professionalism demonstrated by police in the Tsim Sha Tsui shootout, Mr Patten said lessons should be learned. ''While we all want to see customer-friendly banks, we don't want to see robber-friendly banks,'' he said. The latest police figures reveal there have been 88 bank robberies so far this year, of which 68 were successful. A Crime Prevention Bureau source said all the 20 failed attempts were banks which had adopted a more secure ''close screen'' design. ''Among the 68 successful bank raids, 46 were of open plan design and 22 were of close screen counters in which there was a policy for tellers not to resist robbers' demands,'' he said. Last year there were 94 bank robberies of which fewer than 20 successful raids were on banks with close screen counters separating staff from customers. Most bankers spoken to yesterday agreed that partitioned banking halls were safer than banks featuring open plan design. Kwong On Bank manager Betty Wong Sin-ling said: ''We have no plan to change our close window design because we believe security is more important. We do not think we have any major communication problem with our customers.'' These views were shared by officials at Wing Hang Bank and Hong Kong Industrial and Commercial Bank.