The pages of both Management Strategies and American Banker have featured many articles on the future of the branch. We've covered Citicorp's moves to create a virtual bank, Huntington Bancshares' experimental branch, and the growing popularity of supermarket banking.
In this special issue, however, we look to a less-distant future. Given all that has been written and said about the fading importance of branches, for example, it may surprise some bankers to learn that the number of branches nationally has actually increased in recent years (see story on page 10A).
Everyone agrees that branches will be less oriented toward handling transactions and more geared toward sales. At the same time, it's clear that branch banking will be with us for a very long time. First Bank System in Minneapolis is among those institutions that are thinking about changes in how their branches will look and function in the years ahead (see story on page 15A).
In this issue, we also take a close look at Milwaukee's Firstar Corp., which analyst Thomas K. Brown said is ahead of the industry in segmenting and tracking its customer base to boost profitability.