14 ‘Branch of the Future’ Designs

As transactions in bank and credit union branches continue to decline, financial organizations are looking for new ways to use space, insert new technologies, provide cross-channel integration and create a better customer experience.

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The proliferation of digital banking over the past several years has impacted traditional branch banking like never before. Survey after survey indicates a greater preference of banking online and through mobile devices as opposed to using a branch.

Subscribe Today In fact, many of the comments made by the dozens of participants in the discussion revolved around simplicity of design, the removal of friction and the ability to improve the customer experience.

The core functions of the bank in future will be about anticipating the needs of the customer proactively and presenting simple and targeted offers using traditional and digital solutions. The branch of the future will be but one example of how the delivery of these solutions will be executed.

As seen in the examples to follow, technology, innovation and channel integration are playing a key role in the re-engineering and re-energizing of ‘tomorrow’s branch.’

1. If Google Was A Bank…

allen international shared with FX magazine their vision of what it might be like if Google ever ventured into financial services and opened a retail bank network.

The GoogleBank branch would be open and accessible to all – a gallery and learning center, combining virtual sales and promotion space into one. It would be staffed with experts who would guide the guest to smart decisions around financial well-being. The branch would be exciting and compelling to visit, with integrated channels for a seamless customer experience … showing how Google can be an ubiquitous part of a person’s daily life.

GoogleBank would be compelling because they would illustrate the power of understanding the customer … using what they know, building specific products and services to suit, willing to be open and willing to share. GoogleBank would become a conduit to facilitate interactions at the heart of all relationships. They would be always there, when and where their customers needed them. They would get the customer’s preferred distribution model right and would communicate effectively, making banking entertaining and compelling.




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Jim MarousJim Marous is co-publisher of The Financial Brand and publisher of the Digital Banking Report, a subscription-based publication that provides deep insights into the digitization of banking, with over 150 reports in the digital archive available to subscribers. You can follow Jim on Twitter and LinkedIn, or visit his professional website.

This article was originally published on June 16, 2014. All content © 2018 by The Financial Brand and may not be reproduced by any means without permission.


  1. telephone banking is dead says:

    If google was a bank they’d sell data on what you spend and how much you spend on it to advertisers, no doubt about it!

  2. Richard newland says:

    I had the privilege of working for the HSBC Group (one of the worlds largest banks) for seven amazing years, leading the retail centre of excellence, which included how the c8500 retail branches looked and felt, including a dozen or so different formats and brands.

    One of the expressions that always puzzled me when dealing with my colleagues both internally and externally at conferences etc was “The Branch of the future”. It seemed to be an all encompassing expression that more often than not, meant spending a lot of their banks money on a flashy new design, which in some cases looked suspiciously formulaic and remarkably like some other bank’s branches but in their own banks brand colours or indeed adding some fabulous coffee shop implant or print your own T shirt centre, OK so I made that last one up, but it wouldnt surprise me! This was often done without considering what the overall customer experience you were trying to create was or what the primary business objectives were.

    Personally, my golden rule at HSBC was to invest time in getting the brief just right, I’d often spend a few months working on the brief, understanding what the business objectives were now and researching the market as to what they may well look like in the future.

    So when it comes to creating your own “Branch of the future” my advice is simple, research your brief thoroughly, your design agencies will thank you for it and will deliver something better aligned to your business’s commercial requirements. Focus on what the role of the branch is within the overall business and how it needs to remain relevant over the coming years, don’t be dazzled by the design, be single minded about how you can ensure you future proof your branches in a changing omni-channel world, not creating yet again another branch of the future with a T shirt printing centre!

  3. Are there any statistics on increased activity in these futuristic branches? They look relatively empty. And I find it a stretch that somebody would come in, pitch camp, and surf the net like they do at a coffee shop.

    ~ Jeff

  4. Jeff, this may be one explanation: architects love taking pictures of branches just as soon as they are completed — before they have that “lived in” look.

  5. Mirko Sajic Head of IT Department in Bank says:

    If Google Was A Bank…
    Branch will be or not, but surely in different form, but real question is:
    What to do to be a future worldwide Bank ?
    – Transform from Bank of Financial Data to Bank of Data (ref. Chris Skinner book Digital Bank)
    – Significant change in organization (“banks will be predominantly IT or technology companies in the near future, with banking simply the utility provided through that technology.” – ref. King, Brett book Bank 3.0)
    – Changing Know Your Client strategy (socialization of client)
    – Active presentation in Social Networks
    Think who is nearest? Who can make quicker and better transformation?
    Google and Amazon (who already manage our information and make money of that) or Big Banks (where is our money now, but with very conservative view about future organization and conservative relationship with clients)

  6. The bright shiny ball is fun to look at, but Richard makes the key point! We need to spend time on the strategy of the future–not the boutique design of the future! Today, banks & CU’s are too quick to spend huge dollars on design and little if any time developing unique strategies and building organizations to animate those strategies! This is the urgent challenge of the times.

  7. Ian Hough says:

    The Wynwood C1 branch is a huge attention-grabber, but it’s not a good fit for a financial institution, in my opinion. Dislocated pop-art and distracting day-glo patterns would not make me feel comfortable at all. That said, South Florida is something of a candyland, so maybe it complements the rest of the architecture there.

    And why is there a shower?

  8. Completely agree with Richard and Matt. We contributed to some McKinsey research on this topic which found that few of these ambitious branch of the future projects increase the rate of revenue growth and leave many banks disenchanted.

    The research concluded that banks were often following intuitive design led approaches that did little to shape customer visits, with many banks holding the mistaken belief that large capital investments, long payback periods and extensive format changes were required.

    We’d advise banks approaching these types of projects to put utility before appearances, make greater use of lower budget tactical adjustments and design branch formats to actively shape the pre-determined flow of customer visits.

  9. sandeep deobhakta says:

    It would be really useful to understand what all of these banks did to equip and empower their branch staff to deliver the ‘customer experience of the future’. A cool new smart store experience + a cool new interaction experience the is real winner. Jim, it would be terrific if you could feature the investment that these banks are making into the people component.

  10. Jim Marous Jim Marous says:

    You hit on a great point. The investment in the physical structure means nothing if the experience doesn’t reflect a new way of banking. We continue to look for case studies that illustrate the investment (and ROI) in the branch model. If you find something, let us know.

  11. Jim Marous Jim Marous says:

    Excellent points. The illustrations of some of the design in this article are to illustrate where some banks and credit unions are heading today. Not saying right or wrong, but looking for thought starters as many institutions know what they have today is not paying off and that changes must be made.

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