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Spotlight: Online banking’s effect on local branches.

With the rise of digital banking tools, what does the future of your local branch look like?
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More than two thirds of Canadians do the majority of their banking online and on mobile devices.

This may not be a surprising statistic. And there’s a good chance that you’re among the 68% of users who choose to bank digitally.

Like many digital services, technological advancements by financial institutions have been widely adopted because they simplify access to information and services.

With technology driving many aspects of the banking experience, does this mean Canadians are losing touch with in-person, good ole fashioned branch-banking?

The statistic above would suggest ‘yes.’

The reality is? The banking experience goes much deeper than simple convenience and online aptitude.

The world of finance, on a customer level, seems to be more resistant to the effects of digital trends that have laid victim to many of your favourite bricks and mortar consumer service providers – Blockbuster video went from 9,000 locations to one since 2004.

The human experience still plays a major role alongside the digital experience when it comes to modern banking.

Canadians haven’t lost the connection with their local branch

According to a recent report by market research firm Mintel, 86% of Canadians have visited a physical branch at least once within the past year. A quarter of these individuals have dropped in multiple times on a monthly basis on average.

In other words, there's still a strong connection between Canadians and local branches. Customers are seeking face-to-face experiences, especially when dealing with more complex financial products and while searching for advice about important decisions when it comes to their hard-earned dollars.

72% of Canadians prefer to buy complex financial products at a branch – Mintel

“The branch network can play a critical role in building relationships, enhancing trust, providing financial advice and easing the transition to digital channels,” says Sanjay Sharma, Senior Financial Services Analyst, Mintel.

At the heart of the branch experience, there’s a feeling of reassurance when interacting with attentive human beings when it comes to dealing with your money.

What does the future of banking look like?

Community-minded institutions like Northern Credit Union understand that the future of banking lies in technology and local branches.

Member’s needs are unique, and although digital tools and online resources are convenient, they’re meant to enhance the in-branch experience rather than replace it.

Recognizing this need for balance between technology and traditional banking, Northern acts as digital ambassadors to improve the member experience while maintaining the belief that community connections are vital.

Friendly in-branch advisors provide comfort, support, and a personal touch to handling your finances. A great example is Northern’s Digital Days, which help members better use new technology to simplify their everyday banking duties.

When all is said and done, despite emerging digital trends branches remain an essential part of the banking experience.