December 20, 2012

The retail branch remains a key channel in the banking delivery mix despite predictions of its demise, according to a new report from London-based research firm RBR.

According to the report, “Branch Banking II: Case studies for the next generation,” banks that are committed to the branch channel and developing "cutting edge" retail stores tend to have more loyal and profitable customers. These banks can also differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace, RBR notes.

[See Also: StellarOne Bank Envisions Branch of the Future]

According to RBR, while most banks operate a universal customer strategy -- where all branches are aimed at all customers -- some are pursuing a more segmented approach, such as dedicated branches, or zones, focus on specific customer segments, as a way of convincing specific customers that they are focused on their requirements.

The firm noted UniCredit Bulbank in Bulgaria as an example of this. Those banks have spotted a need to accommodate an increasingly powerful and financially savvy women’s sector, and have opened a dedicated women’s branch and separate zones within other branches, all with their own distinct branding, the report notes.

RBR also notes DBS and OCBC banks in Singapore, and Standard Bank in South Africa, which have launched initiatives to attract the increasingly critical younger generations of customers.

Ultimately, says RBR, location and design of branches, management of network assets and the skills and capabilities of staff are critical to the success of the branch channel.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bryan Yurcan is associate editor for Bank Systems and Technology. He has worked in various editorial capacities for newspapers and magazines for the past 8 years. After beginning his career as ...