Skip to main content

How Credit Union Leaders Can Navigate Bank Shut Downs In 2021 and Beyond

The disappearance of bank branches is not a new phenomenon. Between 2014 and 2018, we saw three of the five largest banks in the U.S. close their locations by more than 7%. If you have a bank app on your phone, you can probably guess why this happened.

Since technology makes banking easier and more convenient for consumers, we will continue to see banks close at a higher rate in the near future. According to a study entitled, “The Death of Banks,” in 2030, we will see them fall to fewer than 16,000 and close entirely by 2034. This is not surprising because more consumers are using contactless and mobile payments, especially during COVID-19.

However, we can’t disregard the importance of face-to-face relationships. Although we offer technology and digital services at Buckeye State Credit Union, we focus more on how to serve our members in-person because it plays a huge role in their banking experience. Unlike technology, humans can help members fully understand the process of receiving loans and how to create effective strategies to help them make better financial and more realistic decisions so they can save more money.

Yes, while people are adapting to technology, many still value that face-to-face experience. According to a 2020 PricewaterhouseCoopers survey, “61% of respondents said they’d switch banks for more personalized customer service [and] sixty-four percent said they’d switch over a lack of transparency on trust or relationships.” We can’t ignore these numbers: there is no amount of digital technology that can replace an in-person experience and the relationships that we build with our members.

Additional benefits from in-person communication include responding to one’s body language, sideline conversations between team members, building organizational culture, and more that we don’t get through virtual meetings and apps. In-person experiences are also needed because technology is not accessible to all members especially in underserved communities. I have always taken a strong stance on the importance of keeping offices open mainly for this reason. If you know me, you know that I lead Buckeye State Credit Union through a pathway that offers traditional ways of banking while also offering opportunities to do business digitally as well.

Aside from these personalized relationships, brick-and-mortar locations need to remain open to provide services to our local community. From personalized attention to a wide range of services in a variety of industries, our presence makes a difference. At Buckeye, we focus on analytics and acceptance of higher risk, and we work with our members to customize solutions that provide them with the best opportunities to succeed financially, conversations that are arguably always more effective in person.

Though the pandemic accelerated digital innovation in our industry causing us to jump on the technology bandwagon, we should still continue to provide in-person services that fit the needs of our communities. It’s time to explore different banking possibilities and always remember to create opportunities that are accessible to all members.