Bank Branches 2.0
As one of the oldest cities in the United States, Boston has been home to numerous banks since 1784. Today, there are over 30 different banks with over 900 branches in Greater Boston alone. And looking back at the history of industry powerhouses such as Shawmut, BayBank, and Bank of Boston, it is clear why Boston earned a reputation as the financial capital of New England.
While some banks have disappeared over the years – the number of banks doing business in Massachusetts is down 40% from 2000 – our region continues to benefit from the presence of prestigious financial institutions.
And perhaps surprisingly, brick-and-mortar branches remain close to the heart of the Boston banking industry. Across the country, banks are building hundreds of branches in new cities, confirming that the brick-and-mortar model isn’t dead, just evolving. And while there’s an increased reliance around digital and mobile technology, the reality is many banking customers still prefer the idea of a physical location for a variety of reasons.
The continued creation of new bank branches in and around Boston is a testament to this trend. This region is particularly unique, offering a large enough market for banks to maintain a healthy clientele while growing at a consistent rate.
For instance, Citizens Bank has almost 250 branches across Massachusetts, the most in the state, with 120 in Greater Boston alone. Recently, the bank opened new locations in Wellesley and Newton and also has plans to open one of its new-concept banking and wealth centers at 99 High Street in the heart of the Financial District in early 2019.
And next month, the bank will open its first branch in the Seaport District. Due to the burgeoning neighborhood’s affluent community, significant foot traffic, and the presence of a rising number of small businesses, opening a brick-and-mortar branch makes good business sense.
They are not alone. Earlier this year, East Boston Savings Bank unveiled plans to build six new branches. In the suburbs, Belmont Savings Bank maintains its robust in-store bank branch relationship with Star Market. And other banks – from Capitol One to PNC – are announcing significant expansions of their banking teams in Boston.
Many modern branches are upgrading their capabilities to match customer expectations about accessibility and convenience. A recent survey from Accenture Financial Services found today’s banks seamlessly integrate branches into their distribution model – in addition to digital/mobile – by enabling in-branch digital technologies. The same consumer survey found “nearly 90% of customers believe that they will continue to use their branches, and an increasing number of customers believe that the branch is the single most important channel to invest in for the future.”
Clearly, while digital and mobile banking remains important, Boston banks are continuing to recognize growth opportunities by grabbing market share through new branch openings. And for banks looking to enter the Boston market, brick-and-mortar banking is essential to a successful expansion. The key to a successful integration may lie in upgrading branch facilities to include the latest technological innovations, such as state-of-the-art digital signage and network services.
For more than 30 years JM Electrical has proudly partnered with many financial institutions, whether it’s installing a building automation system during the construction phase of a new branch or by upgrading electrical systems in an established brick-and-mortar location. By embracing innovation, and understanding shifting customer expectations, Boston’s brick-in-mortar branches will continue the region’s long history as an integral hub for financial services.