Slow Going: How US Financial Institutions Are Tackling Branch Transformation

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12 November 2014


Digital channels need to be a high priority, but too many financial institutions lack urgency in tackling branch transformation, placing top line revenue and efficiency ratios at risk.

Consumer preferences are on the move, and their seismic changes are forcing most banks to play catch-up. In the report Slow Going: How US Financial Institutions Are Tackling Branch Transformation, Celent offers analysis of changing bank and credit union priorities and their specific, albeit protracted, plans for branch transformation.

In three consecutive biennial surveys of North American financial institutions, the number one retail banking priority has been improving top line sales results. When asked to rate the importance of various technology initiatives in terms of their ability to deliver top strategic priorities, branch channel transformation ranked a distant fourth behind digital banking channel development, despite the mobile channel’s comparatively low consumer usage and lack of mobile channel selling and originating at most financial institutions.

“Digital engagement is where things are headed, but in-person selling is where things are,” says Bob Meara, a senior analyst with Celent’s Banking practice and author of the report. “A bank’s slowness to redesign branch operating models is placing both top line sales and efficiency ratios at risk.”

The report begins with the need for financial institutions to evolve their retail banking business models, and then examines changing priorities uncovered from Celent’s three biennial surveys. It then foretells branch technology investments based on adoption. The report closes with a call for banks to take decisive, measured action now, even though they may lack a clear vision of the future branch.