By Roy W. Urrico
Not too long ago financial institutions dictated when to perform financial transactions through their 9-3 branch hours. Of course, the branch environment has changed dramatically in the past decade and will continue to change in the years ahead. With the adoption of the Internet, mobile technologies, e‐payments and social media, accountholders are shifting quickly from the brick and mortar world to the digital world. Credit unions, as usual, eagerly accepted the challenge of multichannel delivery by diligently developing robust channels.
The fear is that as branches have become less important to numerous consumers who are more frequently choosing these alternate channels to do their regular transactions there is now a major disconnect with members. In addition, with all the channels now in play to satisfy member convenience demands, are branches still relevant? The answer is yes; branches are still the face of financial institutions for many significant financial life events. Branches remain the method consumers prefer for opening new accounts, mortgages, refinances, personal loans, insurance and investments. Research also suggests that the branch remains the primary driver of account satisfaction and brand identity.
This does not make the job of running a branch any easier. The challenges for branch managers have never been greater. What keeps branch supervisors up at night? For Donna Fain of Pioneer FCU her concerns center on meeting financial goals, training and keeping up with technology. The reason for those sleepless nights are items inherent with new technology such as investments in new systems, training and coming to grips with ROI. Plus branches are now more expensive to operate on a per transaction basis.
For many others branch supervisors the challenges involve meeting staffing needs and satisfying member service concerns.