Tellers Most Endangered CU Position, Execs Say
In 10 years, most credit unions will no longer use tellers to conduct routine member transactions such as deposits and withdrawals, according to two executives who are involved in the move to so-called “teller-less” branches.
University Federal Credit Union Chief Operating Officer Steve Kubala has been actively involved in helping his 134,000-member Austin, Texas, credit union shift to the new model and which the CU expects to unveil in January 2012.
Kubala explained the $1.4 billion institution wanted to do more than just replace tellers with kiosks or ATMs. Instead the CU wanted to change the entire experience of visiting a branch.
“What I am really looking for is something similar to the atmosphere at an Apple retail store,” Kubala said of the new branches. “The new branches will be modern, free flowing, efficient and sharply focused on improved member service.”
He added that University FCU saw this move as less about simply eliminating tellers than about streamlining transactions to free up staff for more complex and detailed customer service.
University is merely the latest credit union to have started to move away from using tellers, a trend which Michael Colvin, one of four principal partners in the Atlanta-based consultancy LEVEL 5, sees picking up speed.
LEVEL 5 helps credit unions and some community banks reconfigure branches but did not work with University on its branching project.
“In 10 years, I believe the financial institution with a teller line is going to be the anomaly. The branches without tellers will be the norm,” Colvin said, adding that the “compelling” economic case for moving away from models where “tellers are trapped behind the counter” would eventually trump popular misconceptions and concerns about removing tellers.