Study: Future Of Branches Unclear

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BOSTON-There is no blueprint for the branch of the future, but a new study points to some common trends among the emerging models.

That's according to a new report, "Branch Banking in a Multi-Channel World, Part II: The Many Faces of Change," from Celent, a financial research and consulting firm.

Despite the growing activity in "alternative" distribution channels, Celent contends that the branch will remain relevant for the foreseeable future-it's just going to look very different. Among Celent's observations:

1) Branch channel evolution is a journey, not a destination. Few transform the branch network in one fell swoop.

2) There is marked diversity among approaches, yet there are common elements. Among them are physical, technology, and cultural elements.

3) Although important, physical branch design has the least impact on producing highly effective and efficient channel delivery.

4) Surprisingly, financial institutions with highly evolved branch channels are typically not "branch zealots" with inflated views of the importance of branches. Instead, many of these same institutions had highly evolved and competitive alternative channels as well.

5) Well-implemented CRM systems and approaches are a given among financial institutions with highly evolved branch networks.

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