Field of Dreams - 1On Tuesday we published the first installment of this blog. Today we complete our series on branch strategies for financial institutions by providing new insight on how to position branches and tips for developing better strategies.

Given the information shared in the first blog, we asked, should financial institutions continue building branches, change the way they operate branches or cut their losses and maximize online channels? The answer is not cut and dry. It depends on where their branches are located, who they are serving and how their products align with those demographics.

The truth is experts disagree on which directions branches should take. Some that we interviewed think branches should reposition themselves as a sales and service hub – one where people come in to get advice on lending and deposit products, and one where branch staff teach consumers to make digital transactions online or on kiosks in the branch. Others think financial institutions should make it easier for consumers to apply for loans online immediately after they finish their online research. They think financial institutions should spend less time and money on branches and more time and money providing market rate intelligence and other information that helps consumers make responsible lending decisions.

Before developing a branch strategy, financial institutions should be asking themselves a lot of questions, like who are our customer/members, how do we want our customers/members to be and what expectations do our customers/members have of us? Also, how does our branch strategy fit into our overall business strategy? And these are just a few of many questions to be looked at.

Read the December issue of my e-newsletter to find additional questions financial institutions should be asking. Plus, find out what one credit union does to develop its branch strategy.

If you build a branch, you want them to come. That requires a comprehensive branch strategy which cannot stand alone. It must be a smaller piece of your entire business strategy, and it must make you relevant and different in the eyes consumers.