Over the last few years, we have seen a shift in banking behaviours. The big banks have reduced their branches by around 1,700 across the UK in the last five years, moving from branch staff carrying out all transaction to a more advisory role. There has been the introduction of self-service technology and large numbers of digital banks and lenders entering the market.
Despite this, Metro Bank has continued to expand their stores opening their 43’rd in October, at the same time holding a strong digital presence with their mortgage switch technology and now expanding their online banking platform.
Last year, Nationwide went against the grain when major banks were reducing their branches, by planning major investments in their branch, focusing on layout. They had already introduced Nationwide Now allowing customers to speak with advisors in branch over video chat, at a time that best suits them without needing to pre-book appointments in store. This has proven popular and is now live in nearly 500 of their branches around the UK. Documents can be scanned and sent to the adviser, with no sound or video delays. Mortgage advice provided via branches is still popular.
Recent financial service research, shows that digital banks will find acquiring customers slow and challenging. 61% of customers have never heard of the concept of digital banking, a small minority believe in the benefits and well over half would prefer to avoid banks with a lack of track record or do not have a high street presence. It appears that when a consumer selects a bank, reputation and convenient location of branches is a key deciding factor.
So branches are not dead and digital banks are not quite trusted 100%! Branches need tweaking and blending with technology, adjusting to customers ever changing demands. However, customers will always want a quicker and easier solution.