Bank of America Plans Big New Push in Branch Openings
For a while, we’d been hearing about how banks were closing branches in response to the growth of mobile and online banking in general. Why have a brick-and-mortar outlet, banks seemed to conclude en masse, if all the users were just going to hit their phones? That trend is actually being reversed in more than a few cases, and Bank of America is joining the fray, announcing plans to open over 500 new bank branches in the next four years.
One major new stop for Bank of America is Ohio, where it’s set to start offering service in Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati. Though it offered commercial and business services alike via its Merrill Lynch connections, this is a new move in the retail banking level. The bank is also looking to step up involvement in Pittsburgh.
It’s not just about opening new branches, either; Bank of America has plans to make some modifications to current branches as well. Not only will 1,500 financial centers get new furniture, layouts and technology, but around 5,400 certified financial planners will be brought in to give retail clients some long-term planning assistance as well.
Mobile isn’t out, however; Bank of America even has new mobile plans. The mobile banking app will soon include access to the virtual financial assistant known as Erica, which will offer help with balance information, account transfers and using Zelle to send money to other places. Starting in April, customers will be able to apply for mortgages over the app as well.
Clearly, Bank of America is playing both sides of the fence here, as it should be. While there’s little doubt the millennials are neck-deep in the mobile concept, there are still plenty of boomers and Gen X types who’d rather have the branch. Since Gen Z is also seemingly considering a return to the physical, that’s all the more reason to keep the real-world connection strong. But the millennials are where the disposable income is right now and will be for some time, so Bank of America needs that mobile connection just as strong or risk losing out on this generation’s big payday.
Smart moves from Bank of America here, and moves that will likely be rewarded in the marketplace to come.