WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – There is no doubt that the look of credit unions has dramatically changed over the years. Design/build firms are responsible for creating or renovating these spaces to include everything from a coffee bar and multi-paneled video screens to remote teller systems and a kid zone. Despite predictions of the demise of branches in the 1990′s, consumers have proven that the branch is here to stay. In fact, Needham, Massachusetts-based financial services research firm TowerGroup estimates that banks, credit unions and thrifts will spend $3.5 billion on branch technology in 2003. This investment level will increase to just over $4 billion by 2005. “The branch remains an important touch-point for the consumer and financial institutions are recognizing that reinvestment in this channel is a prerequisite for future success,” said TowerGroup President/CEO Mark Sievewright. “Our research shows that 92% of U.S. consumers still visit a branch at least once a month, with the majority preferring it to other forms of interaction with their financial services provider. The branch is going to remain a key component of financial services delivery and distribution for some time.” Whether offbeat or more reserved, the credit union facility is quickly reflecting not only staffers and members but also absorbing the local flair of its surroundings. While design/build firms are plentiful, experts agree that selecting one boils down to value and experience. In addition, since the process will be a long one, experts advise credit unions not to underestimate the importance of relationships and to look for a firm that has people you like, respect and enjoy. Curious about what the firms that come up with these unique credit union branches look like, Credit Union Times has asked a few design/build firms to provide this sneak peek of their own facilities. This list is by no means complete-there are many other firms unfortunately we are not able to feature here. We hope you enjoy this look inside: [email protected]

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