Synchrony/Efma C-suite survey shows optimism on branch’s future

Global financial services consulting and technology services provider Synechron has partnered with non-profit organization Efma to produce a report detailing the optimism C-suite banking executives feel about the future of the bank branch, for those who properly invest in digital transformation anyway.

Digital Branch Transformation – The Evolution of Branch Banking, the World Branch Report for 2017, surveyed bankers across the globe to determine the role the bank branch plays in the digital era and the role it could play moving forward.

Synechron focused on four areas:

  • Current market perceptions of the branch
  • Where banks are investing in branches
  • How new technology may enhance the branch model
  • What role staff will play in the future

Eight out of nine respondents (88 per cent) believe physical branches add value and have a future role. One in four (24 per cent) intend to increase their network and invest in changing the model, 39 per cent plan on decreasing their branches and investing in changing the current model, while 63 per cent plan to change their branch model consistent with digital transformation.

The top focus ares for branch transformation are:

  • Improved customer service/engagement (42 per cent)
  • Branch staff role (40 per cent)
  • Digital interactive experiences (38 per cent)
  • Self-service automated technologies (36 per cent)

Virtually all (97 per cent) believe only people can bring an emotional connection to a bank, yet 62 per cent plan on shaving overall headcounts.

The future branch will evolve as an advisory service hub complemented by digital experiences, where bankers must possess both sales and service skills.

Synechron’s David Horton

“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 today’s digital customer,” Synechron’s head of digital innovation David Horton said. “Through digitization, 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.

“The coming years will prove significant for retail banks as they look to evolve their value proposition, acquire new customers, and retain existing one’s through a culmination of digital and physical services.”

“We are at a digital crossroads within the banking industry,” Efma secretary general Vincent Bastid said. “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.

“Prioritizing digital is no longer a ‘nice to have’ addition to a bank, but is critical in shaping their future strategic bank initiatives and the future of customer experience in the branch.”