81% of banks root for branches

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Research shows that financial services organisations are still committed to the high street. Despite the hype surrounding Internet and mobile phone banking, high street branches and call centres will continue to be the most important channels for looking after customers in the future.

These are the findings of research commissioned by Fiserv, the financial sector technology and services provider, revealing the views of marketing and strategy directors at 35 leading UK financial institutions.

Eighty-one per cent of banks and building societies questioned rate the branch as the most important channel, both now and in six to nine months time. Only 9% of banks and 36% of building societies regard the Internet as the most important channel, although banks expect it to grow four times in importance over the next few months.

Mobile banking is even less important to financial services organisations, with only 27% of the banks rating it highly, but it is predicted to increase in importance significantly.

Of those surveyed, 63% rated the call centre as a significant channel, with 20% believing it will increase in importance in the future. Other channels investigated by the research included digital TV and kiosks.

“These findings support the view of Sir Brian Pittman, Lloyds TSB’s chairman, that the branch still remains the most important channel. Barclays may be responsible for closures, but the rest of the high street does not seem to be following suit,” said Phil Alcock, senior vice-president at Fiserv.

“UK banks are becoming far more cautious about their Internet and m-commerce strategies, viewing these new channels as complementary rather than compulsory. Consumers still expect the human touch via the branch or call centre, and this has been reinforced by the recent news that a number of US banks are absorbing their Internet-only brands back under multi-channel operations due to low demand,” he concluded.

Fiserv is an independent, full-service provider of integrated data processing and information management systems to the financial industry. It serves more than 10,000 financial service providers worldwide, including banks, broker dealers, credit unions, financial planners/investment advisers, insurance companies, mortgage banks and savings institutions.

Fiserv’s clients in the UK include Prudential, Birmingham Midshires Building Society and HSBC.

The company’s worldwide headquarters are in Milwaukee, USA, while its European headquarters are in Stockley Park, Middlesex.



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