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Forget branch transformation – spend a few dollars on people


So this week I’m in Las Vegas, land of Elvis Presley impersonators.  Funnily enough, it’s a line I use in many presentations.  What line you ask? 

Well, it kinda goes: "Hi, I’m Chris Skinner.  I’m not an analyst as analysts tend to talk in numbers.  By way of example, there are 39,000 Elvis Presley impersonators around the world growing at a CAGR of 19% per annum which means that, by 2020, 1 in 3 of us will be impersonating Elvis … it’s a one for the money …"

So anyways, I’m in Vegas.  Hubba-hubba and viva Las Vegas and all that good stuff.

Why am I here?  On business obviously at the BAI Retail Delivery Show.  This is the retail bank’s equivalent of SIBOS, with over 5,000 people gathering from around the world to hear the latest and greatest views on retail bank and retail payments technologies and trends. 

This year I’m hosting a group of senior bankers from around the world and, over dinner, we start talking about branch transformation.  I can’t help asking: "how much does a branch transformation actually bring in, in terms of new business?"

What triggered the question is that my local bank branch is pretty seedy.  It always looks untidy as though there is no pride in the branch appearance, the staff are agreeable but administrators hidden behind large glass teller stations, and it generally feels like you’re walking back in time when you go in there as there’s always queues.

Meanwhile, 200 metres down the road, a nice new shiny branch has been opened up by a competitor bank.  It’s bright and airy, with loads of space so I never see queues, and it just looks welcoming. 

Has it made me think of switching my bank?  No. 

Has it made anyone I know switch?  No. 

So, was it worth it?

The retail bankers looked at me warily, thought through the question over a few bites of food, looked back at me, and said … "No.  It’s not worth it."

The general take was that for all the spending on technology, lights, refurbs and so on and so forth, it didn’t make a jot of difference to their competitiveness.

So what does?


All of them said a good manager with a good team makes all the difference.  Obviously giving that team a nice work environment helps, but it’s the people that make the difference.  Spending an extra few thousand a year hiring, training and keeping good, motivated, results-oriented and customer-focused people will always win, they said.

Funnily enough, that’s what I always thought service was all about – people dealing with and being good with people – but then what do I know?

About Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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