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Despite all the changes in the way customers use bank branches, and the talk about “death of branches”, the reality is they aren’t going away. Yes, consumers and businesses are writing fewer checks, and that means teller transactions are down. Yes, our customers are rapidly increasing their use of mobile and other electronic channels. But the branch network is still the key distribution channel, preferred by 68% of consumers and small business.

But branches will change:

  • Branches will be designed differently. They’ll be smaller, and fit into typical retail footprints. There will be fewer free standing branches (less need for large branches with drive-ups).
  • Branches will be staffed differently. There will be greater utilization of universal staff who can handle sales, service and transactions — we won’t need as many tellers.
  • Branch managers will need improved market management skills. With fewer teller transactions, branches will be more like sales centers, and this means greater micro-market knowledge and calling skills to improve trade area sales penetration.
  • Banks will implement tighter cross-channel integration with hub branches and call centers, especially for expert support and customer advisory functions. Leading banks are already experimenting with video conferencing and similar technologies.
  • Successful financial institutions will have more robust front-line relationship management technology to enable staff to deliver better customer service, stronger profitable cross-sell, and achieve greater share of wallet.

What should you be doing now? The most successful financial institutions – large and small — are already working on their staffing, market management, and front line technology. Are you reviewing your teller staffing models? Have you already begun training universal branch staff? Have you upgraded your front line relationship management technology?

During any period of change, some wait for the fog to lift and the path to become clear, while others start testing new pathways forward. In many respects, the path is clear — we just don’t know how fast these changes will happen. Now is the time to start preparing for the changes you know are coming.


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