Branch Visits Down, While Financial Security Rises

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What's Next In Payments®
4:39 AM EDT March 25th, 2014

Bank branches soon could go the way of corner ice cream parlors if current trends continue. Or they’ll at least likely experience a change in flavor, new research suggests.

A recent survey has found that three in 10 Americans haven’t visited a bank or credit-union branch in at least six months. Moreover, only half of Americans have visited a branch to conduct personal financial business within the past 30 days, according to a new Bankrate.com report. ATM visits were not included in these figures.

Banks for years have been trying to determine how best to meet customer needs, and with fewer branch visits comes a need to adjust. In many cases, branches have taken on greater roles in providing advisory services. Not surprisingly, much of that involves addressing the needs of older customers with greater financial means, and needs.

However, while there was some variation among different age groups, it was not as wide as expected, Bankrate.com said. Among those younger than 30, 42 percent had been to a branch within the past 30 days compared with 52 percent of those older than 50.

One in five retirees had not visited a branch in more than a year, while 53 percent had done so in the past 30 days, slightly more than the 50 percent figure for the overall population.

“The number and location of bank branches, as well as their functionality, will continue to evolve, but clearly they’re not going away,” Greg McBride, Bankrate.com chief financial analyst, said in a statement.

Bankrate.com also announced that its Financial Security Index clocked in at 102.2 in March, up from 99.3 last month. That is the third-highest reading since Bankrate.com began these monthly polls in Dec. 2010.

Readings above 100 indicate higher financial security than the previous year. The index’s five components are savings, debt, net worth, job security and overall financial situation.

For the third consecutive month, all components except savings indicated improvement from one year ago. Compared with one month ago, all components improved except for job security, which essentially was flat.

Twenty-seven percent of Americans reported a higher net worth than a year earlier, versus just 16 percent who reported a lower net worth. Americans who note an improved overall financial situation outnumbered those whose financial situations have deteriorated by a three-to-two margin.

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