The branch has played an important role both for providers and customers over many years. The closure of branches always generates discussion and debate, but footfall has been falling for a number of years. Customers – consumers and businesses alike – may like to know that they are there but they do not actually visit them very often.
FinTECHTalents Future of the Branch discussed some of the issues around the changes to branches and the alternative channels that customers are using. A key theme of the event was how providers can ensure a consistency of experience across all channels.
Kicking off with a keynote from Nick Pegram, Head of Bold360, EMEA, LogMeIn, he noted the changes to consumer behaviour and the decline in the use of cash. Trends that have been accelerated by the current health crisis. This has seen a decline in the number of branches and, as noted above, less traffic through them. As those changes become embedded, how can financial institutions ensure that they can provide the best possible experiences to customers? Positive experiences that continue or build on trusted relationships that have often evolved over many years.
He also kicked off with a question for attendees – “where was the first provincial bank established and where?” You will have to listen to the full discussion to find out the answer but most of our audience got it wrong.
Following the opening keynote, the attendees then moved to join an interactive round-table discussion that picked up on the issues outlined.
- Nick Pegram, Head of Bold360, LogMeIn
- Celine Allain, Financial Lead, LogMeIn
- Alexandra Marsden, Head of Distributed Banking Operation, Monzo
- Des O’Dell – AI Implementation Consultant
- Lisa Moyle (moderator)
The participants raised a number of fascinating and important points in relation to the future shape of the branch. Customers are not uniform in their preferences or even in access to digital channels and their needs require careful consideration. Financial inclusion and, considering the current crisis, financial needs are important issues to keep front of mind for providers.
Digital providers have had a slightly different journey but face similar challenges in ensuring the best possible outcomes for consumers and access to information and support when needed. This is likely to become even more important given an anticipated wave of personal financial crises, following on from what has been an economics crisis and their expansion into more complex products and services.
There is clearly a way to travel before all customers and the providers themselves are able to fully replace the branch experience. AI tools, for example, may support customer facing employees in replicating the in-branch experience. Other technologies, AR/VR, may point to better ways to meet customer needs in relation to more complex and important financial decisions and highlight some of the ways in which branches themselves may re-tool for the future.
The round-table discussion is available on demand now.
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