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Branch Distribution

I was reading the obituary of Paul Amos, who founded American Family Life Assurance Company with his brothers. You know the company – it’s the one with the talking duck who repeats the abbreviated name “Aflac.”


Here’s what struck me in the NY Times obituary:


While most insurers sold policies by knocking on doors, Paul had the company emphasize cluster selling and worksite marketing. Instead of making presentations to individuals, the company’s sales representatives often went to companies to make sales pitches to groups of employees. Today, most of Aflac’s United States policies are bought through payroll deductions.


Sounds like Bank at Work, or perhaps Insurance at Work. Aflac built a $121 billion company on this strategy.


We’ve been saying for a long time that Bank at Work can be a highly effective and efficient acquisition channel by reaching prospective customers at their workplace. And it’s a natural fit for banks that have commercial relationships with employers, or credit unions based on their historical SEG (Select Employer Group) heritage.


But before you charge headlong into this program, read our articles and presentations: Ten Myths about Workplace Banking, Keys to a Successful Workplace Banking Program, and Banking on Bank at Work.


And to know more, reach out to Paul Corrigan who is one of the leading experts on Workplace Banking. He managed the very successful programs at Citibank and RBS Citizens, and has consulted with credit unions, community banks, and national banks in the United States, Canada, and around the world. His expertise with Workplace Banking initiatives covers the full range from strategy to execution and includes considerable experience in program implementation and channel management. Paul can be reached at paul.corrigan@ppcgroup.com




This article was originally published in The Financial Brand on March 6, 2014 and was co-authored by David Kerstein, President of Peak Performance Consulting Group, and Nancy Radermecher, President of JohnRyan


Here’s how to make use of sophisticated branch data analysis in the creation of targeted marketing messages, and why this is important in adapting the branch for the future.


The Branch Transformation Imperative

Consumers are changing the way they bank. Research by the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank and others indicates check-writing activity has been declining at a rate of 5-7% annually, creating less demand for branch monetary transactions. Meanwhile, routine transactions that had been branch-centric are being disintermediated by the Internet, mobile and call centers.


According to a report by FMSI, branches process roughly half the transactions they did 20 years ago, with branch transaction volumes declining by 45.3% since 1992. This figure is likely to be considerably higher for banks that have aggressively implemented alternative channel delivery strategies.


Although consumers are using branches less, they still place a high value on bank branch convenience. Local branch presence is a primary reason consumers choose a bank, while customers consider easy access to branches and ATMs one of the features they value most.


Financial institutions face a basic conundrum: consumers want branches, but declining usage is reducing sales opportunities and revenue growth. As routine servicing and monetary transactions continue to migrate out of the retail branch, the fundamental nature of bank branches must undergo a dramatic transformation.


Branches will still be the primary vehicle for customer acquisition and consultative sales, but they must adapt to focus less on teller transactions and more on more complex advisory services. Successful financial institutions will implement more robust front line tools to enable staff to deliver better customer service, stronger profitable cross-sell, and achieve greater share of wallet.


The bottom line is that, with fewer teller transactions, branches must become more efficient as sales centers. This can be achieved through greater micro-market targeting of marketing messages in order to maximize the sales opportunity from limited branch traffic and to optimize trade area sales penetration.


Improve Revenue With Targeted Strategies

Up to now, many financial institutions have employed a one-size-fits-all strategy. Branches are often similar in size and style with limited differentiation. More importantly, marketing strategies are frequently implemented uniformly across the network with limited variation of messaging based on unique branch or trade area characteristics.


Usually, messaging is two-dimensional (for example, Spanish language signage in selected locations). But “best practice” institutions are improving revenue by tailoring messaging in a more efficient and impactful ways.


Moving forward, financial institutions need to adopt a more sophisticated “Rubik’s Cube” approach where messages are specific to the trade area market opportunity. This should form part of a comprehensive system that uses both market and internal data to create a sales and marketing protocols.

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PNC has been piloting the Universal Banker concept at 45 of its mid-Atlantic branches, and recently announced that it is moving to full rollout, with 300 branches being converted in 2014 — the first step in planned conversion of two thirds of its more than 2,700 banking locations during the next five years.


Banks can achieve significant benefits from implementing Universal Bankers including higher sales, lower costs, and improved customer satisfaction. But implementation requires more than just a recruiting and training program, but an overall strategy around facilities, technology, marketing, sales management, measurement, rewards, and recognition.
Ric Carey, who has had extensive experience implementing and managing Universal Associate programs, explains in this short webinar.



A reprise of a guest post by Peak Performance affiliate Sandra (“Sam”) Black, an expert on call centers and telemarketing.


Your call center receives hundreds, perhaps thousands, of calls each day. Buwoman with phone headseatt how many of those calls are converted into sales? Most incoming calls are service questions or simple product inquiries (What are your rates today?). Sales conversion rates for 1st call inquiries range from only 1% to industry leading 40%. What differentiates industry leaders? While some differences can be attributed to the cost and complexity of different products, the key variable is the skill of the inbound representative.


Why is so much business left on the table during the inbound call? Some organizations staff their inbound centers with order takers who do not have the skills to convert inquiries into  appointments. That is an area that will have to change as organizations recognize that each and every inquiry, whether phone or email has the potential for conversion!


Those steps include technology, employee skill set, sales tools, and sales process. Here’s a short checklist: Continue reading


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