Bank Branch Transformation: Better Banking Experiences in a New Era

Prioritizing renewed purpose, banks and credit unions move toward an advice center model for their retail networks

As more transactions migrate to digital channels, banks may feel compelled to focus first on their digital engagement strategy. But it’s the branch that likely holds more promise as the key to customer acquisition and delivering value. Determining a blend of banking channels is smart strategy, empowering banks to capitalize on the best aspects of each for a more seamless experience. In their article on digital and branch strategy, PwC puts it this way: “Success will ultimately involve finding the right balance between building deeper banking relationships with digital customers, while persuading branch customers to take advantage of digital capabilities.”

With digital channels taking over many basic transactions, the role of the branch is evolving but essential. In their recent article on retail branches, the Financial Brand spotlights thinking from Adrenaline’s Gina Bleedorn. She describes how the branch represents a critical link between digital and physical, as consumers may start account opening or loan applications digitally, but finish inside the branch. “While transactions may not be as important, banks and credit unions could be losing an opportunity for human connection,” she says. “For many community financial institutions that can’t compete with big banks on mobile capabilities, the branch is a point of differentiation.”

Consultation Centers

Evolving the retail network to create a more seamless experience is crucial, but “bridging the gap between the physical and the digital likely will be neither smooth nor swift,” says Deloitte in their report on reinvigorating the branch. “The reality is that banks must consider a range of actions to take at once, saving and growing simultaneously, says Juliet D’Ambrosio in Adrenaline’s Smarter Branching for Growth. Embracing a “North Star” empowers a financial institution to move toward its ideal experience and optimize the network as they go. D’Ambrosio continues: “While every financial institution has to make their own decisions about branching strategy, small and mighty branches show you don’t need a massive retail location to make an impression.”

Less a place for transactions and more a place for consultations, branch transformation for many financial institutions is moving toward advice center model. According to the Financial Brand summarizing Gina Bleedorn’s thoughts: “As banks and credit unions transition branches to experience centers grounded in financial advice, their staff will need new skillsets.” The consultation center approach represents the expanded functionality and financial expertise consumers want, but banks will need to implement staffing shifts to deliver on these new experiences. “It requires a wholesale staffing shift,” says Gina Bleedorn. “Banks and credit unions have to invest in their people, and in more training.”

For more about branch banking and evolving the retail network, stay tuned to Believe in Banking’s continuing coverage of the industry’s top trends and topics. For banking best practices and perspectives, like how banks can transform their retail networks to grow more and serve better, visit Adrenaline’s Insights. And if you’re a banking leader looking for brand-to-branch strategies customized for your institution, contact our banking and credit union experts via email at