Headcount increase on the horizon for growing banks and credit unions

Over the last 18 months both the FDIC and NCUA are reporting that loan growth for banks and credit unions are at levels only known before the great recession. Furthermore, thanks to the recent moves by the Federal Reserve, interest rates are increasing for the first time in nearly a decade. Naturally the next shoe to drop is an increase in net income. In fact, the FDIC reported earnings for the nation’s 6,000 banks soared in 2016 – 13% higher than in the previous year.

It would appear that banking is once again growing in favor across America. Pent up demand, a stabilizing economy, interest rate increases and expense moderation are paying great dividends for the stakeholders of banks and credit unions. As written in previous articles, this growth creates 7 Ripples through a Bank or Credit Union’s Main Office. Growth puts pressure on headcount and many financial institutions (FIs) will be faced with expanding their operation’s footprint. Expansion at this scale can be costly, and if not done correctly, will hamstring the organization’s ability to grow, serve their consumers and develop their employees.

Planning the Main Office to a Predictable Outcome

When it comes to planning a Main Office, many FIs jump right over the science to design aesthetic, color pallets, furniture selections and branding. These components of art are certainly important to resonate with the community and your most valuable asset, your people. But before the first pen is lifted to draw or design, a comprehensive personnel forecast is critical…if the goal is a predictable outcome.

Personnel forecast is a look into the future. A personnel forecast is the end result of analyzing the FI’s operational back office. The analysis calibrates and benchmarks the FIs growth to understand the needs of the company. A well-developed personnel forecast, based on peer group analysis and seasoned experience, will help the FI plan for the next 10 to 15 years. This process often includes staff interviews, online surveys and data requests to shine up the crystal ball to gaze into the future.


Do your homework, before you design. Without this work, designers are making guesses on the needs of your business, which can lead to insufficient space or too much. However, with an expert analysis, designers can start allocating space to each job function with a holistic view in mind.


Job functions, adjacencies and business practice. The continuation of the design team’s work, then groups job functions by department and establishes adjacencies based on how the bank or credit union communicates and manages its team. The facility is stacked or layered based on the interdepartmental communications to create the mass needed to optimize land and establish the right presence in the community.



Science, Art and Cost. Planning a main office is a dance between science and art during the Preconstruction phase of the project. Preconstruction begins with programming, and that effort starts with the marriage between the science of studying the organization, establishing headcount, and weaving in the art to the designed outcome.

One big question we haven’t touched on yet is Cost…and Cost is King. If cost isn’t a stated priority of the project, then it is implied as import…kinda like oxygen. However, many don’t understand that cost is won or lost in the Preconstruction process – not when the project is bid. But that’s another story…

Until then, here’s a short clip of one FI’s experience driving their main office to a predictable outcome. Planning, corporate vision and process certainly made their project seamless…and predictable.