Chocolate and iPads at Your Branch

Umpqua Bank, headquartered in Roseburg, Oregon, just opened its flagship store in San Francisco. Among the amenities are coffee and chocolate tastings, iPads and computers for customer use, and mobile concierge services. This reflects Umpqua’s new approach to branches and recognition of the need to utilize technology effectively. Whether others do it Umpqua’s way or differently, the key to success is the recognition that bank branches and delivery systems will continue to change.

The Pace of Change is Astounding

As we all know, change is inevitable. However, what’s startling to me is the rapid pace of change we are experiencing. Just the other day, I read a story about the unveiling of smartwatches, watch-like devices that will allow you to take pictures, surf the internet, etc., similar to a modern-day Star Trek scenario. They will be available this fall.

Recognizing that hard copies of books, magazines and newspapers may soon be historical relics, we all must be willing to adapt to change. It is unclear just what bank branches and delivery systems will look like in the future, but one thing for certain is that they will be different.

Thinking Outside the Box

One key advantage of community banks is their ability to be nimble and responsive. While the big banks have more economic and human resources, they don’t have a lock on ideas. You may not want to be on the bleeding edge, but thinking creatively and untraditionally may be a huge advantage going forward. I am willing to wager that in just five years, the way bank branches look and operate, and the manner in which banks deliver products and services, will be vastly different.

I think there will be an advantage for those banks that plan for and adapt to the future proactively. Will a mobile bank calling officer replace the more traditional in-branch mode? What kind of interactive technologies will best serve your existing and potential customers? And, why not call them clients, instead of customers? (Sounds a bit more upscale, doesn’t it?)

Survival Isn’t Enough

Mere survival shouldn’t be the goal for most community banks. The bar should be much higher. With consolidation inevitable, those community banks that choose independence should strive to excel. I really think there could be a renaissance for community banks on the horizon. Your success is only limited by your imagination. The face of banking will undoubtedly change. Are you willing to do the same?