Writer: Joey Garrand
3 min read July 2021 — The pandemic accelerated the digital transformation within the banking industry, forcing individuals to use technology for their banking needs at a time when face-to-face wasn’t an option. While some have anticipated a return of clients to branch locations as the economy has reopened, the foot traffic in retail locations has dropped significantly and bank strategies are morphing accordingly. Here is what leaders in Broward County told Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale 2021 regarding the future of physical branch locations.
David Druey, Florida Regional President, Centennial Bank
You still want to meet customers but there’s a change in the way people do things, and what they are accepting. That’s become the new normal. When the pandemic hit and we were ordered to close branches, and use drive-through only, many people saw the capacity of using those outlets. You’ll never see traffic in branches like you saw them in the past; that’s never going back to what it was.
Robert Ramirez, President & CEO, We Florida Financial
The idea that you can open an account or apply for a loan from your couch has reduced the need for physical branches. I see us downsizing the size of our physical branches because the need for them won’t be as great as it was before. We will place a larger focus on digital. Millennials want to know that a branch is near where they live and work, but they rarely go to a branch. It’s more of a security blanket for them. An increasing percentage of our member business will be done electronically going forward; however, it is our goal to continue to provide both physical and digital delivery channels.
Richard Helber, President & CEO, Tropical Financial Credit Union
Over the last several years, we’ve put a focus on building our digital capabilities and have seen lighter branch traffic, allowing us to reduce the branch network as a result. One of our strategic pillars is mobile first. While there has been strong adoption of online and mobile tools, we saw a spike in the usage of technology by people who would not typically manage their money in that way. We thought when we reopened the branch network there would be a stampede of people coming in, but this hasn’t been the case. There will always be those people who feel more comfortable looking after their finances at the branch, but there has certainly been an uptick in digital platform usage.
Louis Rheaume, President, Desjardins Bank
When COVID hit, most of our branches were closed and people became eager for digital banking and more digital services than we were offering prior to the pandemic. We started implementing many solutions to better serve our customers without having them come to the branch. It was a major shift in the way in which we offered services since our average customer is around 65 years old. We had to fulfill their needs as well as to secure them and their investments. As we expand our digital services, the role of branches will also be to support the users in the learning process for the use of online services.