Page 22 - BusinessWest July 6, 2020
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a role for branches that emphasizes financial wellness and consultative ser- vices more than routine business.
“That’s going to be the bigger com- ponent of what a community bank does — trying to help people navigate a lot of things,” he explained, before adding that there will be plenty to navi- gate in the coming year, when more customers than usual will be struggling to achieve stability. “Financial well- ness isn’t just for people with means; it’s everybody, from somebody with an entry-level job to someone doing col- lege planning or estate planning.”
The bank of the future will put greater emphasis on this consultative
technology, the big-city, money-center banks could meet the needs of every single person. If you don’t have the technology, you’re going to fall behind,
but the extra, community-focused efforts are what’s really going to make an impact.”
role, through personal interaction that can’t occur online.
“Obviously, if it was just about tech- nology, the big-city, money-center banks could meet the needs of every single person,” Sullivan said. “If you don’t have the technology, you’re going to fall behind, but the extra, commu- nity-focused efforts are what’s really going to make an impact.”
Kump said UMassFive has elimi- nated tellers — or, more accurately, it has eliminated branch employees who handle only that role. Instead, employ- ees are trained to be “universal agents,” able to tackle multiple roles, from tra- ditional teller business to loans and other matters.
To achieve that, the credit union has tripled its training budget over the past few years, seeking to identify not only financial skills, but empathetic person- alities with a real desire to help people.
“The face of banking is changing permanently. Branches in the future won’t be as critical, with fewer transac- tions coming in. But they will always be needed for key parts of financial life,” he explained, citing anything from home and auto loans to opening mem- berships to simply seeking financial advice.
“We won’t need the huge teller
line anymore. We won’t need as many branches, and the services we’re pro- viding in the branches are changing, he added, noting that customers are also discovering they can conduct routine business face to face — sort of — through ITMs. “Someone could be at the Northampton drive-thru, talk- ing to someone working from home in Belchertown.”
That raises the question of how many workers need to be on the prem- ises, both while COVID-19 is still a threat and afterward, considering how effectively operations have continued during the pandemic.
“From a back-office standpoint, about half are working remotely,”
Day said. “Can they continue to do that long-term? Yes, but there’s still
the human element, and people can feel isolated. Feeling part of a team is important to some people, while some people are loners. But technology is certainly giving us some options.”
And the bank, which recently broke ground on its third Hampden County branch, this one in Chicopee, has cer- tainly been discussing those options.
“More transactions are going online, but when you want to talk to a person to problem solve, especially with more complex transactions, that can certain- ly be done over the phone — and has been during the pandemic — but the way we’ve designed our branch of the future, there’s more consulting. If you want to come in and consult, we’ll talk to you — a lot. So frontline people will still need to be there to handle ques- tions and solve problems.”
Continued on page 41
Obviously, if it was just about
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