Self-Service : The great pruning of the branch bank in financial service.

“WHY can’t I just talk to somebody?” screams an exasperated customer in a 1980s advertisement for Barclays, a British bank. In the dystopian future it…


Uniform branch formats are being replaced by a range of set-ups, from large flagship “stores” to poky ones with just a couple of desks. Some banks are opening branches in less prominent and cheaper spots. Others are trimming business hours, or staying shut on entire workdays, to save on labour. The aim is to cut the expense of renting and staffing branches from something like 60% of the total cost of running a retail bank to 40%.

Such incrementalism may be insufficient, however. Bank bosses worry that their phone-addicted children have never been inside a branch. That is not surprising: they are the fastest adopters of new technology, and are too young to have mortgages or need investment advice. Whether they will start visiting branches when they get to the “key touchpoints” in their financial lives is the big unknown. Many think not: mortgages and loans can be obtained online now.

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