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Grow or Go: Defining Banking’s Branch Future
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by CHRIS HOWE

SVP, RETAIL EXPERIENCE DESIGN

Adrenaline’s Sean Keathley shares his insights on branch optimization as a contributor to The Financial Brand

Tuesday, May 28, 2019 – In the bylined article “Decision Time for Banks and Credit Unions: Optimize or Close Branches?Sean Keathley, Adrenaline’s President & CEO, describes the branch dynamics that have banks rethinking their approach. In the article Sean says, “Having the right branch in the right place staffed with the right people is mission critical.” It’s no secret that branch visits are abating, but closing branches and pushing customers online is neither feasible nor favorable for most financial brands. 

With branch visits projected to decline by more than a third in the next two to three years, “the branch channel is either an asset to a financial brand – a critical touchpoint with consumers who may not come in very often – or a liability because many banks and credit unions have deferred maintenance significantly.” Sean describes a mushrooming number of bank and credit union branches scattered across the country as needing a substantial investment of both “funds and focus to remain relevant.”

Given the current environment, it might be tempting for some to advocate for branch closures, but Sean thinks that would be a mistake. After all, the branch is where the customer counseling banking is known for taking place. This is where relationships can be deepened. Sean says, “Banks and credit unions must meet consumers where they are. Sometimes that’s online and sometimes that’s in a branch where a more consultative banking experience can occur.”

For many midsize bank brands, budgetary allotment for branch enhancements remains one of banking’s biggest challenges. Banks must make the most of their “digital consumer-facing brand while also maintaining that physical presence.” What’s needed here is a little self-reflection. “To avoid wasting time and money, they need to determine the ideal for their branch experience at any given time – essentially, their ‘North Star.’ 

Sean says, “While it will evolve, taking the vital step of finding that position cannot be skipped, because it informs and influences every step of the customer journey to come.” Once developed, a North Star provides guidance for every decision to come. “Whether an institution goes about improving an existing branch network or focuses on expanding into new markets via merger or acquisition, leveraging the ideal branch experience is central to successful optimization.” 

In our next article highlighting Sean’s expertise featured in The Financial Brand, we will address how banks are executing both visual and operational change. These and other branch concepts will be explored in greater depth in Adrenaline’s upcoming white paper on optimizing and transforming your branch network. 

To learn more about our branch services or request a copy of the forthcoming white paper, contact us at info@adrenalineagency.com.

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