Bank branches ‘must invest more in digital’
Written by Anthony Strzalek
Bank executives believe that bank branches are here to stay but only with the proper investment into digital transformation, a new report has found.
The research, conducted by Synechron and Efma which surveyed decision-making bankers from across the globe, found that 88 per cent believe physical branches add value to customers and will play a role in the future of banking.
Nearly a quarter of respondents (24 per cent) intend to increase their branch network and invest in changing the model, yet nearly four in 10 (39 per cent) said they plan to decrease their branch networks whilst investing in change to the current model.
Additionally, 63 per cent said they are planning to change their branch model in line with digital transformation.
The top focus area for branch transformation as identified by those surveyed is to improve customer service/engagement, which 42 per cent identified as a priority, followed closely by the evolution of the role of branch staff (40 per cent). This, however, is followed closely by introducing digital interactive experiences (38 per cent) and self-service automated technologies (36 per cent).
The bank of the future will continue to have a physical presence, as 97 per cent of bankers agree that only people can bring an emotional connection to the bank, and their role will be focused on bringing the relationship connection with the bank. However, 62 per cent of respondents are planning to reduce overall headcount in bank branches.
David Horton, head of innovation at Synechron, said: “Bank branches have played a critical role in the development and success of retail banking in modern times and they will continue to play an important role, but our new report with Efma shows that the model must change and adapt to support todays digital customer.
Through digitisation, the bank branch can reinvent itself to improve the experience for the customer while maintaining the personal and emotional connection which many customers value so highly.”
Vincent Bastid, Efma secretary general, added: “We are at a digital crossroads within the banking industry, and while digital and emerging technologies are taking the lead, our survey with Synechron confirmed that banks still value the physical bank branch, and are looking for ways to merge the two experiences to gain the best outcomes for both banks and their customers.”