The old “drive-thru shade” or “umbrella in the window” safe-opening method was passable so long as all branches remained physically consistent, and branch employee staff and counts constant. Enter the Branch of the Future…and Future…and Future with new layouts, floating staff, new technology and evolving customer expectations. The antiquated practices of the past fifty years must migrate to a new generation of safety and compliance
Single Control & Rethinking the Branch Opening/Closing Process
The delivery of financial services continues to evolve. As we look to the year of perfect vision (2020), there is a revolution growing in physical security for the banking and credit union industry – single control for opening and closing branches. For many reasons – efficiency, branch transformation, staffing challenges – banks and credit unions are moving away from the decades-old open/close process. You remember that, right? Multiple employees gather in the parking lot to prepare to open the branch. They follow a memorized-but-not-documented series of actions to secure the branch. They open the drive-thru window shade or hang an umbrella on the door or post a colored paper to indicate that the branch is safe to enter.
Today, the industry embracing new solutions to render this process obsolete. Designed specifically for the financial services industry, SafeBanker® (for banks) and SafeResource® (for credit unions) utilize cutting-edge technology to allow branches to be safely opened and closed with a single employee. Other benefits include increased efficiency, streamlined communication, active threat mitigation, and gains in compliance, oversight, and reporting.
The federal law driving safety in financial institutions is the Bank Protection Act, which was enacted in 1968. The law, though, is innately vague and allows financial institutions (FIs) to maintain compliance by simply changing standards to avoid regulatory scrutiny. This method was passable so long as all branches remained physically consistent, and branch employee staff and counts constant. Enter the Branch of the Future…and Future…and Future with new layouts, floating staff, new technology and evolving customer expectations. The antiquated practices of the past fifty years must migrate to a new generation of safety and compliance…enter the SafeBanker/SafeResource mobile safety application.
Efficiency = Strength
A decade after the financial crisis, the financial industry stands on much firmer ground. The primary lesson learned over the period is the weak are eaten by the strong, and for “strong” read “efficient.” Best process efficiency standards encourage FIs to accelerate their transformation, particularly in technology. No doubt the most efficient institutions are embracing technology transformation across the retail and growth markets value chain. What was a traditionally reactionary industry is now embracing the concept of “changing how we change” and embracing process efficiencies, physical retail designs, and IOT applications. With the high adoption of retail engagement platforms such as teller cash recyclers, ITMs and Smart ATMs, branch employee counts will continue to fall (by an estimated 30% according to industry experts) over the next five years. Utilizing technology like SafeBanker/SafeResource to move from dual to sole control frees up staff hours to move to peak-time staffing models and improve customer service without increasing personnel costs.
There may be no better time than now to reimagine the physical retail environment and technology applications. Technologies to enable transformation are becoming more powerful, readily accessible, easily implementable, and able to meet regulatory requirements. As we realize the benefits of the retail branch efficiencies, we must embrace new processes of protecting the people and assets at the core of our success. And yes, these new technologies provide the potential for a substantial return on investment when properly utilized.
About the author – Kevin Mullins speaks from experience as a former bank CEO and Director. He held the first U.S. Patent for systems to physically open/close financial services facilities and is the current CEO of SaferMobility, the world’s leader in video mobile safety solutions. He is constantly working to build solutions to improve personal and workplace safety.