Research Suggests Bank Branches Aren’t Going Anywhere
Like a lot of other things, it seems like banks are doing their best to eliminate the need to interact with an employee. We can open accounts online or through an app. We can apply for loans the same way. We can pay our credit card bills without going into a branch or mailing a check. There's even banks that talk about saving you cash because they do everything through the internet. All of this doesn't spell the end of the bank branch. Research indicates other things.
Sometimes, when you go into a branch it seems like a ghost town. In the 70's the bank would be a hopping place, today not so much. At least some of the time. And the big banks have noticed, closing branches and shrinking their physical footprint. According to a CNN Business report banks have closed more than 3,000 branches since 2010.
I have to chuckle at this, just a little bit. Back about twenty years ago I opened an account with a major bank. I really would have preferred to work with a local bank or credit union, but went with a big bank because radio.
As a young radio pro, I knew my family would be moving around, "town to town and up and down the dial" as the theme to WKRP proclaims. It's part of the job. The convenience of being part of bank that was seemingly everywhere, trumped opening and closing accounts as I moved for my career. By the time I wound up in a city that didn't have a branch of my big bank within 30 miles, I didn't need one. The app and the web could handle most of my business. It also means I could probably ditch my big bank, and work with a local bank and keep my account even if I move if I'm happy with them.
But here's the thing. Gen Z and Millennials are using bank branches and want them as part of their banking experience. According to CNN Business "Many customers, especially younger ones, still regularly rely on physical banks to make deposits, get paper money and even pay bills." To take it even further 72% of Gen Z and 60% of Millennials visit a bank branch at least once a month.
While the percentage of young people who value bank branches is surprising, it's not as surprising that older generations value bank branches even more. Simply, people like meeting face to face with a banker when opening new accounts, applying for mortgages and loans, and managing their wealth.
A couple more surprising facts from the survey: Less than half of Gen Z and Millennials would trust an online only bank. However, both these generations think that the technological advances such as chat bot technology and voice skills apps for Amazon Echo and Google home are better than interacting with a human.
What do I think all this means? We like bank branches and we want them around when we need them. Like when we want to open an account. When we're thinking about how to save for retirement. When we need to take a bunch of money out of our account. However, for the day to day mundane transactions, being able to execute those from the comfort of our easy chairs are perfect. At least that's been my experience. The research seems to agree.