Coronavirus will empty the branches?

Few people question that the traditional branch format no longer works for most people’s banking habits… an expensive problem to resolve!

I was in a couple of branches in central London the week before the outbreak and they were completely empty and this was before the outbreak of the Coronavirus!

Can you image the future? Many surveys have confirmed that while customers are using branches less frequently they still value having a local branch, even though they have new channels and technology to manage their financial needs.

Most branches are used for transactions either at the teller line or the ATM, but having said that last week I wanted to deposit a cheque into my local branch but they refused to take it due to new procedures as all cheque deposits now have to be sent by mail or placed in the ATM.

So as transactions become reduced and retail visits are set to drop, to perhaps four visits a year , this poses a big dilemma!

As a new implementation branch concept can cost between £300,000-£500,000 it is an expensive exercise with a long payback. So part of the answer must be the inclusion of 3rd parties, but at the moment Capital One Cafes or Santander Cafes certainly drives traffic but do they payback the investment? The answer is still out there!

I am sure the future of branches will eventually become advisory offices with strong emphasis on staff training and following the hospitality sector on how to treat customers… as if you had entered a Ritz Carlton hotel. The teller line has to go and be replaced by advisors with TCR’s [teller cash recyclers].. in other words a Universal Banker!

Better for the customer, better for the advisor and more cost-effective for the bank!

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