Future Branches: spotlight on technology and partnerships - Blog | Blend

A spotlight on technology and partnerships from the inspiring Future Branches Austin

It’s official: the branch isn’t dead. Large swaths of both Gen Z (72%) and millennials (60%) are making monthly trips to the local branch. 83% of boomers believe physical experiences are fundamental components of their banking journey. Our time at Future Branches ensured the point was clear: demand for in-person service remains high.

However, changed consumer expectations put pressure on banks to provide something, well, different. How can banks continue to serve loyal customers while meeting expanded, digitally influenced service demands?

If our time in Austin is any indicator, a key enabling component will be technology. Our very own Xan Gentile joined a panel of branch experts to explore this topic. The consensus? Branch opportunities are ripe, but partnerships are fundamental.

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1. Move from tired to inspired with a techie touch

There’s no question that much of the traditional branch experience is tired. Unfortunately, the gut reaction has been to ditch physical spaces in exchange for digital interaction points.

Lenders with exceptional branches hold awesome power. There is unbelievable potential inherent to meeting core physical needs while introducing elements that reinvigorate a decades-old experience.

Technology helps in two ways. First, it brings new life to an interaction point that feels old, sparked by the new normal of digital engagement. Second, through machine learning and automation, branch staff can focus on the value-adding activities that make being in-person truly worthwhile.

2. Develop the engine your branch needs to run at full speed

Although intergenerational squabbles seem to be at an all-time high, one gripe seems to transcend age: why do banking experiences seem so broken?

Disjointed experiences will drive anyone away, regardless of the person’s level of digital comfort. As banks onboard new technology to support better branch experiences, it’s important to get things right.

It’s easy to understand why banks are struggling with technology orchestration. Core banking systems are disparate, outdated, and frequently clunky. The technology required to unlock the branch of the future can be a challenge to implement — especially for banks with domain expertise misaligned with technological needs.

With fintechs, banks have an opportunity to onboard key technological support without the expensive IT headcount typically required for these changes. Of course, doing so requires a fintech that is willing to develop a lasting partnership, which brings us to our final point.

3. Don’t buy from vendors. Connect with partners.

Ultimately, future branches will be powered by partnerships. Banks can continue to provide the phenomenal level of service that keeps customers in the family for generations. Technology providers can offer the functionality that allows banks to serve these customers in the ways they’ve come to expect.

Success will be determined by the value both sides place on partnership. Banks and their partners need to make sure everyone is feeling aligned, respected, and heard.

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