JOHN J. STACK

Managing director

Chemical Bank

New York

In a trend that started in the mid-1970s, the branch has evolved from a "bank" unto itself into a sales, service, and operations center, with growing emphasis on sales and service. This evolution will accelerate in the 1990s according to customer segment.

Generally, small businesses will be branch dependent because of their need for daily transactions. Consumers will continue their shift toward electronic delivery.

The branch infrastructure can be an important competitive advantage against nonbanks if it becomes a sales center offering a wide variety of financial products and if it becomes more efficient at satisfying customer needs by off-loading routine transactions and centralizing normal operational functions. Otherwise, it's an albatross. WILLIAM M. RANDLE Senior vice president Huntington Bancshares Columbus, Ohio

The innovation of the 1990s is the emergence of a true electronic delivery channel with the ability to access customer accounts 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

To integrate these electronic access devices in a way that redefines convenience, as access to information rather than access to a physical location, requires a strategic focus on electronic delivery and on the branch itself. The role of the branch in the future will not be diminished by the role of electronics, but rather enhanced. Indeed, there will be fewer branches and fewer bankers. However, the branch of the future will sell many more services and products than is the case today.

The focus in the branch will be on service and the sale of a broad array of noninterest investment products.

BEN PRICE

Senior vice president

Union Planters National Bank

Memphis

It's interesting to note that since 1974, the number of FDIC-insured institutions has dropped while the number of branches has risen.

This tells me that the banking industry views the branch as a viable part of the future. The industry must determine the very best way of continuing to operate the branch at the lowest cost possible while at the same time using the branch to protect household market share.

The banking industry owns a very large share of the market - households that do their financial business with banks. The very best way to protect this market share is to use the branch.

Banks will have to strengthen the sales culture in the branches, so that we can offer the whole range of financial products through the branches.

CILLA SHAW

Vice president

Columbus Bank and Trust

Columbus, Ga.

Most of our customers who are electronically oriented will seldom visit a branch unless they are considering expanding their existing account services. Therefore, it is important that our electronic services have a strong marketing focus so that we can cross-sell.

We also have customers who prefer the personal touch that our branch personnel deliver so well. We will always give customers their choice of banking - whether it is self-service or one-on-one - but the pricing will reflect the cost of the service they choose.

Customers expect banks to offer electronic access to existing and new accounts just as much as they expect that good old personal one-on-one service. I envision that the two needs will coexist at CB&T for years to come.

SABRY J. MACKOUL

Executive vice president

UJB Financial corp.

Princeton, N.J.

The branch delivery system will change dramatically over the next decade. The current transactional environment, both at the teller counter and platform, will be transformed into a proactive sales culture. Direct deposit, enhanced ATMs, home banking, and the smart card will significantly reduce the need of the consumer to visit the branch.

Most consumer loan applications will be handled by telephone or fax. Such delivery systems will allow banks to substantially reduce the number of branches, thus improving the important efficiency ratio. Only a few very large branches will be necessary to cover the customer base. These large branches will serve as retail outlets, staffed by highly trained, commissioned personnel selling all types of bank and nonbank products and services.

MICHAEL E. JENNINGS

Senior vice president

Boatmen's Bancshares

St. Louis

Technology is transforming the branch from a transaction facility to a sales and service office. As consumers become more reliant on self-service delivery vehicles (such as ATMs, POS, interactive terminals, touch-tone and display telephones, and personal computers), the need to use a branch for transaction processing will diminish. These delivery vehicles can support the purchase of products and the execution of transactions more conveniently and effectively.

Consequently, the branch should become the "high touch" sales and service center not only for traditional bank products, but also for annuities, mutual funds, and other less traditional products where personal service adds value.

D. BRUCE WHEELER

Executive vice president

Mellon Bank Corp.

Pittsburgh

I foresee hub-and-spoke arrangements of branches in the future. The hub would be centers of expertise where we will have mortgage lenders, financial planners, consumer lenders, commercial lenders, trust officers, and investment counselors. The spoke branches would be served by enhanced technology: video terminals, fax machines, laptop computers.

Branches will be much smaller in the future, and they will be where retail traffic patterns support them. One good example is supermarkets. Mellon has 27 supermarket branches so far.

Drive-ups, which have been a staple of branch banking, will become even more important. There will be more stand-alone drive-ups, not connected to a large walk-in branch.

ANNE SLATTERY

Director- northeast division

Citibank

New York

We at citibank believe that the face-to-face interaction between a customer and a Citibanker is the most important factor in building long-term relationships. This basic tenet will only be enhanced by the advancement of banking technology.

Our state-of-the-art technology supports this interaction by providing the relationship managers with the tools necessary to better meet all our customers' financial needs. Branch teller and platform systems help empower staff members to deliver consistent and comprehensive services to our customers.

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