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Jul 2015 - Best Practices - Doc # FIBA01X

Branch Transformation in a Digital World

Authors: Andrei Charniauski, Lawrence Freeborn

This IDC Financial Insights Best Practices discusses the current challenges faced by banks in managing their branch networks and outlines the best ways to transform them.Managing branch networks has become one of the perennial problems of the banking industry. The centrality of the branch has declined as mobile and online banking have risen, but not to the point where it can be deemed surplus to the requirements of banks with existing networks. The response needs to be twofold. First, banks need to keep a lid on the costs of their networks while gearing them toward high-value sales activity.Second, the branch must be redefined conceptually. In the past, the branch was the fulcrum of the bank's relationship with its customers, now it needs to play a complementary role in an omni-channel strategy. It needs to support other channels where appropriate and deploy its unique asset of face-to-face contact at every opportunity.

"There has been much debate around banking centers on whether the branch is 'dead:' this is an interesting theoretical discussion, but it has little bearing on reality. Also, it is useless for banks that are grappling with how to make the most of existing networks," said Lawrence Freeborn, senior research analyst, IDC Financial Insights. "Just as the rise of new technology has threatened the branch in the past few years, it also holds the key to their continued relevance. By implementing the right solutions, a bank can ensure that its branches are cost-effective and play their role in offering an excellent customer experience."

"The branch is here to stay for decades and will continue to offer a major competitive edge over digital-only financial services," said Andrei Charniauski, Head of Europe, IDC Financial Insights. "This does not mean that banks can simply rest on their past successes — the branch must evolve consistently with other channels to continue delivering its unique value. Introducing innovative technology solutions will enable branch employees to serve clients in branches according to modern customer experience demands."

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