Despite the workplace and the world coming to a halt, now is the time of action. The impact of COVID-19 is real and its legacy on Retail Banking is still unfolding. It is up to you and your team to stay ahead of it with purposeful action.

Over a year ago, we developed our original “7 Deadly Sins” regarding Branch Strategy, and while that list still holds true, we now present a companion list:

1. Inaction

Sin: For adopting a wait and see attitude by not evolving your branch strategy.

Commentary: Sitting around and waiting to see what will come of branching in a post pandemic world is the wrong strategy, or rather, not really a strategy at all. Your clients need you to take action. Let them know you’re there, and what you’re doing to make banking safer and better, now, and in the future. After all, what you had developed and began enacting at the beginning of 2020 likely needs to be revisited, if not revised entirely.

2. Design

Sin: For not adopting a short and long term approach to evolving your branch design, both from a safety perspective regarding cleanliness and social distancing (short term), and for considering more aggressive design layout changes due to the pandemic’s legacy (long term).

Commentary: You should have already added sanitization stations and social distancing measures, but are you planning for what the new branch will look like for years to come? Old and dated branches are likely not considered “open concept.” Newer designs allow for a better flowing branch. Any work here can also have the benefit of defining a new prototype for the branches in your network, and for those yet to come.

3. Digital

Sin: For abandoning a well-balanced omni-channel approach and going all in on Digital haphazardly.

Commentary: A solid Digital strategy and product stack is important, nobody is saying otherwise, but too many industry articles are being written about digital as this miracle singularity. Yes, digital transactions are up, but a well-balanced omni-channel strategy still holds true – a solid branch strategy stands next to your online and mobile strategies as well.

4. People

Sin: For not converting and training your staff into Universal Tellers and Advisors.

Commentary: You need to solve for the “universal” needs of those in a branch. Yes, transactions still occur, but more and more visitors to the branch need and require general, if not complicated financial advice beyond deposits and withdrawals. Regardless of the pandemic, branch transactions have been in decline for years, but with the branch still playing a vital role in your overall strategy, having the right staff with the right skillset will be key.

5. Data

Sin: For not accessing, interpreting and using data to inform your decisions.

Commentary: You cannot afford to have a branch in the wrong Trade Area, or, even on the wrong street corner of the right Trade Area. No longer do we open (or keep) branches based on gut feeling, or the fact that we “know” that part of town is viable. The right data, will eliminate the mystery, and reduce risk.

6. Retail Branch Strategy

Sin: For not seeing the branch growth opportunity in a recession.

Commentary: Many of your competitors are sitting on their hands instead of getting them dirty and pivoting strategies accordingly. Branching will be different. You need to evolve with it, or you will find yourselves on the wrong end of an acquisition play. Furthermore, now may very well be the time for an aggressive growth strategy. Real Estate will be cheaper, labor will be cheaper, and even some of your competitors will be vulnerable.

7. Technology

Sin: For not understanding the right technology deployments needed in your branch.

Commentary: The time to debate Recyclers, ITM’s and even Digital Signage are over. Get rid of the Teller Line already, automate transactions and remove unwanted paper by digitizing it on screens. The contactless branch is here and the right technology will put you on the forefront of this movement.

Hopefully, you’re not committing too many of these sins, but if you are, the good news is, there’s still time to do something about it.

LEVEL5 has been helping Banks and Credit Unions grow since 2004. And now, more than ever, we are helping Retail FI’s navigate through this pandemic turbulence.

If you’d like to speak with us further about what we’re hearing, what we’re doing and how we can help you, Contact Us today so we can get started.