This past weekend, Beneficial Bank christened two new education-themed branches in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. The bank describes the branches as “campuses,” designed to be hubs for both learning and the community at large.
Both the new branches incorporate a “Financial Learning Library” (something the bank is trying to claim a trademark on) with shelves stocked with books and e-readers focusing on financial education.
For kids there’s the “Little Learners’ Corner,” with activities and books to teach children about money and saving.
Beneficial says it will hold free financial educational workshops for the general public every week at the branches.
“Beneficial is not only a bank, it is an education company that puts a priority on providing customers with the tools and resources that they need to become smarter about their money and do the right thing financially,” said Gerard P. Cuddy, President/CEO.
The bank intends to use these two new campuses as the blueprint for all future branches.
Beneficial’s long-term commitment to a branch design centered around financial education seems risky. Why would the bank pour money into offline financial libraries when it could be building a modern, online “campus” dedicated to financial education?
You’d think a bank that describes itself as “an education company” would already have financial education resources online, but Beneficial doesn’t. There are a few personal finance tips buried deep within the bowels of Beneficial’s website, but good luck finding them. Start at the homepage and try it yourself. (Tip: You’ll have to use the sitemap, but you might have a hard time finding that as well.)
And if you take a look at Beneficial’s Twitter stream, you won’t find anything related to financial education there either.
The new branches are nice and will likely out-perform other, more traditional designs, but ultimately, it seems Beneficial’s claim about being an “education company” isn’t much more than PR spin applied to an architectural façade. If you’re going to boast about your financial education efforts, at least look like you walk the talk.