There may be no physical institution as historically revered as a bank. Community centers and trusted destinations, the banks of our imaginations are cool and quiet spaces housed inside classical limestone buildings. Ceilings are high, floors are marble; words echo. Behind bronze-framed windows, tellers take money from trusting customers for safekeeping or direct them to comfortable chairs where they wait for a personal banker.
Nice try. Banks these days are hardly elegant or imposing. Most have shrunk in size thanks to rising costs of real estate, and many have disappeared entirely, according to data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Chase reduced its branch presence by 190 locations, a 3.4 percent decline, from 2012 to 2016. Wells Fargo closed 98 branches, a 1.6 percent decline in the same period. Its peers are even more aggressive. Bank of America closed 243 branches (16 percent) in that period and Citi closed 302 (28.5 percent).
Branches are consolidating locations with lower servicing volume, opening in higher growth areas and renovating existing branches and ATMs. More importantly, they’re evolving into more compact, digitally oriented spaces that incorporate new technology and help branch employees focus on improving the customer experience.
Some end up looking more like Apple Genius Bars than banks.