Pennsylvania Credit Union Association

New Report Shows Branches As Important As Ever

10/30/2013

Madison, Wis. – Consumers still overwhelmingly prefer getting their financial advice in the branch and making their deposits there, too, according to a new report from Filene Research Institute and the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association. However, mobile activity grew more than 90 percent in 2012, and may account for the majority of balance inquiries within three years and eventually the majority of balance transfers and check deposits.

The “Channel Delivery for Tomorrow” report examines how consumers interact with financial institutions. Written by Ben Rogers, research director at Filene, the report looks at channel delivery from four angles, using proprietary data from McKinsey & Company, Novarica and Fiserv, along with national data from Gallup. Using those disparate sources and expert interviews, Rogers details consumer preferences and forecasts their likely evolution.

“Researching consumer behavior is critical for credit unions,” said PCUA SVP, Fee Services, Corinne Sherman. “This study will help Pennsylvania’s credit unions and others to better serve their members by developing multiple channel strategies going forward.”

Even if mobile is not yet the preferred method for transactions, the delivery preference for information and low-value transactions like checking balances, paying bills and transferring funds is increasingly flowing to digital channels. As critical as digital is, branches remain important for establishing member relationships and handling high-value transactions. Using observations of the channel usage of more than 3 million credit union members, since 2009 the average monthly branch volume per member has grown nearly 12 percent. Branches in this large sample of members still process the most items and inquiries per member.

The research suggests that younger, less financially experienced adults feel better opening accounts in person while older consumers prefer to interact online. Still, 18- to 24-year-olds interact with their financial institution twice as often as 65+ retirees according to the data, spreading their transactions across more channels.

“We were surprised by what the data are saying here,” said Rogers. “Modern financial channel delivery is a lot like an all-you-can-eat buffet. When you introduce another channel, members add it to their plate without eating less elsewhere. Credit unions need to recognize this and work toward steering members toward the channels that make most sense.”

The report encourages credit unions to prioritize and select channels that with the best fit now and several years down the road.

Filene Research Institute is an independent, consumer finance think and do tank dedicated to scientific and thoughtful analysis about issues affecting the future of credit unions, retail banking and cooperative finance. Filene is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Nearly 1,000 members make the Institute’s research, innovation and impact programs possible.

The Harrisburg-based Pennsylvania Credit Union Association is a trade association that provides legislative, promotional, educational and operational support for nearly 400 credit unions in Pennsylvania. These credit unions have assets in excess of $38 billion and serve more than 3.7 million members. To learn more about PCUA, visit www.pcua.org. For additional information about credit unions or to find a credit union, visit www.ibelong.org.


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