Branches Continue to Be an Essential Means of Delivery
This opinion piece is half of a new Credit Union Times feature Forum Focus, which will comprise opposing viewpoints on key credit union issues.
The initial predictions that branches would no longer be relevant surfaced around the time ATMs were first deployed in the early 1970s. Despite numerous predictions since then, branches continue to be an essential element of delivery strategy. At Tower, we recognize the branch network may eventually become obsolete, but until our members tell us branches are no longer relevant, we will continue to selectively expand our branch network where the demographics, location and break-even forecasts tell us it is prudent to do so.
Branches create intrinsic value for a credit union. They provide essential exposure in areas where members work or live. They give greater comfort to members, knowing that a branch is nearby when they think about opening a checking account. They create linkage with members as part of their local community, and they increase the likelihood that members will become personally attached to the credit union and see its importance in their long-term financial well-being.
Becoming a known quantity in the community, by associating a face with the credit union, can go a long way during periods of economic turmoil or when competition enters the local marketplace. Branches can have a significant impact on increasing member trust and loyalty, thereby maximizing PFI potential.