Fulton Financial in Lancaster, Pa., is planning to open six new branches in 2012 and will renovate five others as part of a broader effort to make its branches more inviting and free up staff to better interact with customers.

The $16 billion-asset multi-bank holding company is also in the midst of core processing upgrade that, when completed, will give present branch employees with a complete picture of a customer's relationship so that they can better assess clients' needs.

E. Philip Wenger, Fulton's president and chief operating officer, discussed the strategic priorities at the company's annual meeting Monday, a transcript of which was provided by SeekingAlpha.com.

He said that the new branches would be more open than the traditional branches, featuring teller pods rather than teller lines, and would include such services as coin-counting machines, self-service deposit boxes that can be access by scanning a customer's palm, and even a kid's zone.

"All of these features make it more inviting for the customer to come into the branch and spend time with members of our team," said Wenger, who will take over as chairman and CEO of the company when his current boss, R. Scott Smith, retires at the end of the year.

Fulton has grown largely by acquisitions, but the company stayed on the sidelines in 2011 and sees "limited" opportunity for deals this year, Wenger said.

"Bank consolidations may increase as the economy continues to improve," he said. "When the time is right, we will consider strategic acquisitions that enhance shareholder value as a way to deploy any excess capital we may have."

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