Terry Badger
Apr 25, 2022

Conventional wisdom calls for a shift from transactions to advice, but how do banks and credit unions get from here to there?

Facing shareholder pressure to improve profitability, major banks must look beyond layoffs for new ways to reduce operating expenses and boost productivity.

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“Bank at Work,” or workplace banking, is not a new concept but it’s one that may deserve a second look from growth-starved bankers since best-in-practice banks have embraced this strategy to drive as much as between 40% and 60% of all new consumer accounts.

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“Without a growth strategy, you are dead in the water,” said Chuck Sulerzyski, CEO of Marietta, Ohio-based Peoples Bank.

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Increasingly, banks seeking to optimize branch staffing are using qualified part-time tellers to supplement full-time staff during peak volume periods.

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For most bankers, determining where to put branches is primarily viewed as an “art” – something qualitative, often based on a “sense” of which markets are growing or the opportunity for available space that comes from a realtor telephone call (“You must see this wonderful new space that’s now on the market!”).

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Branch consolidation is a major theme in retail banking this year as institutions pare back their branch networks to reduce expenses and increasingly rely on self-service channels to meet customer needs.

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Recently, several banks have begun addressing branch distribution costs.

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Do banks “get it right” when it comes to digital strategy? We recently posed that question to somebody eminently qualified to provide an answer: Aaron Dignan, CEO and founding partner of New York City-based Undercurrent, a digital strategy firm noted for working with some of the largest companies in corporate America.

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“She has the words, but not the music,” said Mark Twain of his wife’s attempts at swearing.

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In our currently tenuous economic environment, opinions about how to manage retail banking and, specifically, the branch system vary dramatically.

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Branch design is a hot topic these days with all the speculation about the “branch of the future” in the wake of gradual customer migration to electronic channels.

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The traditional branch sales model was based on cross-selling to customers who used the branch for transactions.

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There is intense debate right now about the future of the branch.

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Workforce utilization management – the process of tailoring staff schedules to meet need and thereby eliminating wasted payroll hours – is an especially complex task when it comes to tellers.

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There are regular discussions at conferences about the cashless, branchless future.

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Retail banking today is more complex than ever for many reasons, including changing consumer preferences, regulatory uncertainty and the challenge of maintaining an array of delivery channels that are now available to and expected by customers.

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Are retail banks overlooking a major segment of their customer base? It seems improbable, especially given the intense hunt for growth in a tight market.

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You can sense an audience’s reaction as you present ideas on innovation.

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What to do with the branch in an era of declining revenues is one of the top strategic problems facing retail bankers as they look to 2012 and beyond.

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As banks increasingly grapple with trying to reduce the high cost of their branch networks, one would think that more institutions would look at lower-cost in-store branches.

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