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Branching out

Banks still feel the need to have plenty of locations, but their purpose is far different than before

Provident Bank CEO Chris Martin feels customers still want a personal relationship.-(AARON HOUSTON)

In an era when people actually go into physical banks far less often than ever before — quick, find a teenager and ask them if they’ve ever actually been inside a bank — you can understand why consumers may be hoping instead for the latest trendy store or restaurant.

But if you ask a banker, the answer is clear: Branches are as important as they ever have been. That’s why they keep popping up even as more customers move their banking transactions online.

The branches of today are quite different. They tend to be smaller and require less staff since consumers and businesses increasingly rely on technology to get their banking done. But their core mission remains the same: They make the loans that help the latest trendy stores and restaurants open.

To do that — despite all the modern-day technology — there is a need for a face-to-face conversation. In a branch.

“You still need to sit down with a potential customer,” said John McWeeney, president and CEO of the New Jersey Bankers Association.

“Banks still view branches as important parts of their distribution channel; it’s just not the only part.”

We talked to three different types of banks about branches — and how they will impact their business in the future.

Each has a different story to tell.

Here are their thoughts:

WELLS FARGO

Beth Fitzgerald

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