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BRANCH BUSINESS: Don’t Write a Eulogy for Branches – Just Pay Attention to How Their Role Is Changing

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BY MEREDITH DEAN

Think mobile devices are sounding the death knell for the credit union branch? Research is showing, in fact, that CU branches still have plenty of life left in them. Their roles are just changing. Find out how to make your physical locales viable now and into the future.

Every day more consumers conduct financial transactions with their mobile devices. They’re tapping their phones at the point of sale, they’re taking pictures of checks and depositing them remotely, and they’re balancing online checking accounts.
Banks and credit unions are simply making it easier for Americans to manage their finances on the fly, generating a
great deal of debate about the impending death of the branch. But according to the 2015 FMSI Teller Line Study, branches – in fact – are not on life support. Far from it. They are evolving from a place to conduct transactions into centers for financial advice and sales.
The numbers show that branch transaction volume is indeed declining, in fact, a full 45 percent since 1992. Certainly, tough decisions are ahead for banks and credit unions regarding their bricks-and-mortar locations. But those decisions should be based on detailed insights of where branches have been, where they are heading and the types of adjustments – both culturally and technologically – needed to make branches viable in the future.

Follow the Trends
For nearly 25 years, FMSI has conducted a detailed annual study of teller activity volumes, using the month of March as a benchmark. The annual Teller Line Study is a compilation of statistics from community banks and credit unions in geographic regions from all across North America. The March 2015 study encompasses over 16 million teller transactions and compares the same information to the previous 23 years of the study. The trends inform us about transaction volumes, pay rates, labor costs per transaction and part-time utilization. Here are some important statistics from that study:
• Along with the 45.3 percent reduction in teller line transaction volume since 1992, community banks and credit unions in that same period collectively have had a 90.1 percent increase in staff salaries and benefits.
• Those two factors have contributed to a 133.3 percent increase in labor cost per teller transaction since 1992.
• In that same period, teller line productivity has dropped 18.5 percent in the number of transactions processed per teller hour.

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