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Are Tellers an Endangered Species? Bankrate Survey Says No and So Does Diamond Lakes FCU CEO
Tuesday, March 25, 2014 7:00 AM

Despite the ubiquity of dot-coms and mobile apps, the traditional bank branch isn't ready to disappear just yet, reports Bankrate.com. Lots of people still physically go to the bank, a new Bankrate survey has found. Half of all bank customers or credit union members had visited their local branch within the past 30 days for reasons other than the ATM.

Bankrate's survey, which was part of its March Financial Security Index, found that people of all ages still go to the bank. Nearly one-fifth of respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 visited a bank or credit union branch within a week of the survey. Around 30 percent of people over age 30 visited a branch in that time frame.

Dee Edie, CEO of Diamond Lakes FCU in Malvern, Ark., tells the Leaguer they get so much branch traffic that in October 2013, they opened a fourth branch.

“People like the convenience of technology, but I just don’t think technology will ever fully replace the brick and mortar branch,” says Edie. “Money is very personal and many people find it comforting that their financial institution has a physical presence in their community. And seeing a familiar face when they visit a branch is also important.”

Diamond Lakes FCU is about $62 million in assets; serves nearly 11,000 members, and employs 28 people. According to Edie, 15 of their employees are on the frontline. The credit union has online banking, mobile banking, ATMs and voice response. The credit union had recently considered eliminating voice response thinking it was becoming an outdated service, but instead they had to add another line to better accommodate their members. Edie says teller transactions have been growing consistently, and in fact they’ve seen about a 5 percent increase every year for the last several years.

“We’re social creatures and we are just wired to want to be around other people, so I think that contributes to branch traffic,” suggests Edie.   

Although the sands of banking are shifting, Bankrate finds that even with the growth of online financial service providers, many people still like having someone to physically walk them through the byzantine world of loans and investments.

Click here to read the Bankrate article.