In keeping up with industry reading it is clear to me that we, as an industry, are perplexed at what to do about branching. The recently released FDIC Summary of Deposits showed the second year of branch decline. The most recent ABA study on delivery channel preference showed online banking eclipsing branch transactions for the 55+ set. That's right... old people letting their fingers do the walking.
As we evolve, I envision the comfort of knowing there is a branch nearby to continue. But the people who occupy those branches should evolve to those that can open accounts, troubleshoot problems, advise customers, develop business, and occasionally process transactions. This branch will probably be smaller, and less expensive to build out. Smaller is certainly a theme I am hearing from bankers and industry professionals. If you are of a mind to continue trying to make the branch into a destination to drive traffic, let me introduce you to Sisyphus. Going to the bank is a chore. Boom.
So what about these big branches that we all have? An industry stock analyst told me that big banks have advantages over small banks because they can pay for increased compliance expenses by closing branches. The community FI may not have this luxury. But big banks have challenges here, in my opinion. Many have built palatial branches that have no discernible value except as a bank branch.
To be fair, the Wells branch had $52 million in deposits and the TD branch $130 million at June 30th. But the old Commerce was known for large branch deposit sizes because they aggressively pursued municipalities for their banking business. So aggressive, indictments were involved. But I digress. The TD branch does have more deposits, and perhaps this is partially due to the palace.
But as we determine our next step in branching, we can't ignore the trends that are telling us that transaction processing in branches is becoming secondary to something else. As branches decline in prominence, we should plan our next branch with the gas station in mind. We don't want to manage multiple properties of former branches that sit stale on our books eating our capital.
What is your opinion of what the "next" branch should look like?