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Branch Distribution

Paul Corrigan is a Senior Consultant at Peak Performance Consulting Group. He is a leading expert on Workplace Banking (Bank at Work programs). Specifically, he was responsible for the development and management of both Citibank at Work and RBS Citizens’ YourPlace Banking. His experience covers the full range from strategy to execution and includes considerable experience in program implementation and channel management.


This article was originally published in BAI Banking Strategies on April 4, 2014




Financial institutions are facing declining branch transactions and diminished branch sales. As a result, more banks are looking to Workplace Banking as an effective channel for attracting new customers, expanding relationships with existing customers and therefore improving sales productivity and cost efficiency. After all, Workplace Banking puts branch teams in front of prospects and customers they no longer see in the branch.


If implemented effectively, Workplace Banking can be a significant incremental source of revenue, representing between 10% and 30% of total new customer relationships according to our analysis of over 20 Workplace Banking programs. The problem is that while many banks offer Bank-at-Work programs, comparatively few provide the structure needed to optimize long term profitability. Here’s a look at some myths about Workplace Banking and some suggestions of why your bank may not be getting the most out of these programs and how you can rectify that:


Myth #1. Workplace Banking drives low balance, low quality customer relationships.


Reality: Workplace Banking provides higher account quality than the bank average if the program structure includes focused company targeting. Although company targeting is the number one determinant of new account quality, many banks fail to put a disciplined process in place. Without this structure, local managers will often call on the easiest targets of opportunity, such as retail and hospitality, resulting in low balance and high turnover accounts. Conversely, employees working in professional services, academic, medical and technology fields will provide the bank with profitable, long lasting relationships. Additionally, branch teams will also meet current bank customers at their worksite and have the opportunity to cross-sell and deepen relationships.


Top Tip: Successful programs include a company approval and registration process to insure targeting strategy is maintained and fail-safed.

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I had the pleasure of chairing the Branch Optimization track and speaking at the American Banker/Source Media Retail Banking 2014 conference earlier this month.  Clearly branch optimization was on the mind of participants and the room was filled to capacity. Take that, Digital Media!

Seriously, there’s not much controversy over the importance of the branch channel, but there is a lot of debate about the nature of its transformation: the number of branches, the average size, what’s inside, the type of employee, and the most effective sales and marketing process.

Our panel had an informative and spirited discussion with three different points of view from Bank of the West, Associated Bank, and Santander.

Here’s an overview of what we discussed


A visit to Chase and Umpqua branch-of-the future prototypes in San Francisco highlights two very different visions of the future of banking.


This article was originally published in BAI Banking Strategies on February 21, 2014


Few topics in banking inspire as much commentary as branch-of-the-future concepts, since it’s now generally accepted in the industry that today’s branch model is fated to go the way of the typewriter after the word processor made its debut. Everyone, it seems, has an opinion on what that future branch should look like.


Some clues to that format are likely contained in branch-of-the-future prototypes that some institutions are beginning to roll out. During a recent visit to San Francisco, I took the time to visit two of them operated by New York-based JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Portland, Oregon’s Umpqua Bank. Here, in the hopes of bringing the discussion back to street level from the 30,000-foot conceptual stage, are my impressions of these current efforts.

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After peaking at 99,550 branches in 2009, the banking industry has pulled back on bricks-and-mortar offices, with a 3.2 percent decline over the last 5 years. While the data establishes a quantifiable decline in bank branches, it does not indicate the beginning of the end of bank branches, a subject of speculation in banking circles since ATMs started showing up in large numbers in the 1970s.


I think that for almost all of my career, I’ve heard it’s the end of branches, and it hasn’t happened. Will the number will continue to shrink? Yes. Is it going to go down significantly? I don’t think so.


Jerry Siebenmark of the McClatchy Newspaper Group wrote an interesting article on this subject (with some nice quotes from us).  For the full text, go to http://dld.bz/cSK5g


Two very different banks appearing at BAI Retail Delivery 2013 show how marketing success depends on utilizing each institution’s competitive advantages.


(This article was originally published in BAI Banking Strategies on October 25, 2013)


Big banks, small banks. Occasionally the differences are glossed over. Small bank leaders may overestimate their ability to replicate a large bank technology play. Large bank leaders may underestimate how impersonal the bank might look to someone accustomed to a true community bank.


But just as often, the differences are exaggerated, as in: It takes huge scale for a bank to afford sophisticated marketing. Or: Large banks’ customer-centricity programs are but a pale imitation of community banks’ natural customer intimacy.


The truth is more elusive, as will be demonstrated in a session at the upcoming BAI Retail Delivery 2013 entitled “Changing the Rules: Marketing Strategies that Grow Sales and Revenue.” In this presentation, moderated by me, two very different banks demonstrate that the ability of any institution to thrive depends entirely on what each does with its natural competitive advantages and how it shores up its disadvantages. Rockland Trust in Eastern Massachusetts has just under $6 billion in assets and 77 branches. At the far side of the size spectrum is Fifth Third Bank, the country’s 12th largest with $123 billion in assets and more than 1300 banking offices in 12 states.


Both institutions were bent on achieving significant improvements in sales and revenue, and among their first commitments was that of listening carefully to their customers before making product, service and price decisions. On paper, “listen to our customers” sounds the same at both institutions. But how this maxim played out had very little in common – except in stellar results for both.

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Here’s what the world really needs: an ATM that dispenses cupcakes. I was walking between meetings in Chicago, and there it was – Sprinkles Cupcakes, line out the door, but 24 hour convenience for the sugar addicted.


The shop was just like bank lobbies used to be — jammed with customers – and Sprinkles found a way to ease the lines and provide convenience after hours. It reminded me of the beginning of the ATM era. In 1978, New York was blanketed with 17 inches of snow. Within days, a commercial ran showing New Yorkers plodding through the mess to Citibank ATMs and an iconic marketing campaign was launched: “The Citi Never Sleeps.” (It’s still the official Citibank tagline, but with new meaning.) Within 3 years Citi’s market share of New York deposits had doubled.


But, as my friends in Canada constantly remind me, you don’t automate tellers, you automate banking (ABMs as they say, not ATMs). And we are fully moving into Automated Banking.


Wells Fargo just unveiled a new concept branch in Washington, DC that is fully automated – and open 24 hours a day. Bank of America is implementing “teller assist” ATMs with a video link to live tellers from Diebold and from NCR’s uGenius line. Customer using the machines in Boston are serviced by tellers in New Jersey, Delaware and Florida.


Banks have used technology to reduce teller staff, but now are bringing back a human touch to keep contact with customers who are increasingly using non-branch channels for their banking business. So far, customers have been embracing self-service, or assisted self-service, banking. And why not – they already do it at the grocery store and airport. Wal-Mart even has a smartphone app where you can scan your own purchases right in your cart as you go through the store, ring it up, and speed through the checkout line.


What’s next on the Automated Banking horizon? I’m rooting for Cupcakes!