The branch is changing. You’ve noticed, but the bigger question is, have you done anything about it. Whether it be the Big Boys who dominate the headlines or the buzz-worthy smaller retail Banks or Credit Unions who are finding new, refreshing ways to utilize their existing branch network, it’s not a matter of if you change, but when.
The traditional purpose of the branch was to provide convenience for a transactional minded customer with a need to do something. While transactions still likely provide the main reason for the branch to exist and why customers stop by in the first place, transactions have moved into more convenient spaces such as online and mobile, so as a result, some industry leading institutions have played around with and are proving that the branch can be more than just a transaction house.
The branch represents a tremendous opportunity to simply speak and advise your customers. Regardless of the why, there surely must be an opportunity to engage, speak and counsel (not sell) customers about the right product mix, depending on their stage in life.
Customers who are considered “banked” and have several products still need counsel. They may need more products and they may very well need to swap products based on their life-stage. Customers change, go through ups, downs and different phases, each with different needs. Let the branch be that gathering place to foster these discussions.
Your branch and your overall network is not McDonald’s. A foundational principle of any fast food chain is to be exactly the same, across the board, across the country. Customers expect to walk in and be presented with the same basic layout, the same decor and absolutely the same menu whether they are in Baltimore or Bar Harbor.
- Mixed Use – While not new and maybe not for everybody, Capital One has gotten a lot of attention for their Capital One Cafe’s. While perhaps more buzz-worthy than practical, it has garnered a lot of attention and is at least attempting to answer the question of how to evolve the branch.
- Hub and Spoke – A known branch model utilized to great effect by retailers across the board. In banking, you would look to operate a hub (or a flagship) branch that is the epitome of who you want to be, from branding elements, technology and particularly an array of services. The spoke model will be smaller scaled satellite branches. They will still be very much your branches, but offer less services with different staffing models. Those customers seeking services not offered at a spoke location would be advised to visit other full-service hub branches, or better yet, be offered the ability to speak with a remote expert.
- Specialty Sites – As an off-shoot of the Hub and Spoke model, a Specialty Site would be a standalone site focussing on one exclusive function. Think a location outfitted only with Mortgage Specialists or Financial Advisors.
The Universal Banker ushered in an era where the traditional Teller and traditional Personal Banker morphed into one full-service associate. Gone are the days of a branch having an abundance of staff who or are really good at one thing. The Universal Banker model accounts for the overall personnel contraction in a typically transaction-oriented branch, making way for someone who can do a lot of things, maybe just not as well as the specialist.
Regardless, the dawn of the Universal Banker 2.0 is upon us. With in-branch transactions continuing to decline and the branch’s purpose beginning to morph into a more experiential center, the new Universal Banker will now also have to wear an “Advisory” hat. Ironically, it is the Millennials (Generation Y) and the new Generation Z customers, while incredibly proficient with online and mobile tools, being the ones who need the most financial advice, even something as seemingly simple as opening a new Savings Account will prove to be a critical reason for the branch.
If you’d like to learn more about branch trends in the industry and how you can begin to lay the right future foundation, Contact Us today to speak to a specialist.