Bank and retail branch designer Jean-Pierre Lacroix, President and Founder of Shikatani Lacroix Design predicts bank branches are not going to disappear. Instead, how customers and businesses use branches will evolve.
Across the United States, there were 4,492 commercial banks with 31.2 branches per 100,000 people. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, over 6.4 million people were employed in the finance and insurance sectors in the United States. From Main Street to Wall Street, the commercial banks have been impacted at all levels.
Retail branches will need to conduct an assessment of the types of services they can offer to existing and potential customers. The American Bankers Association has released an excel matrix that examines the guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the United States Department of Homeland Security, and other federal resources. Additional columns are left blank for state and local guidance for the 118 categories identified by the American Bankers Association.
Assessing Retail Branches
Depending on their structure, the common fixture of a drive-thru may have a central role in their reopening strategy. Transactions that can be completed by tellers through a drive-thru will take priority to lobby visits. Bank branches will need to determine what services can be conducted through the drive-thru and may be limited to transactions that cannot be conducted through their mobile app or website.
One common recommendation for protection to retail customers and workers is to wear a face mask covering their nose and mouth. Many customers take it a step further to include eye coverings and gloves. For financial institutions, these coverings directly conflict with their security policies. An evaluation of their security policies may include removing any face coverings in front of a camera before entering the lobby and posting security personnel outside the branch to triage their level of anxiety.
Determining the customers' needs before permitting access to the branch will provide additional precautions for workers and customers. Some branches may consider only permitting existing customers to make appointments or enter their lobby. Additionally, banks may establish hours for their vulnerable customers and first responders.
Non-Retail Branch Institutions
For other financial institutions, the guidance resembles the procedures in reopening office buildings. Employees can expect to undergo temperature checks upon arrival, regular disinfection of their offices, staggered schedules and moving offices and cubes to accommodate a six-foot distance. In-person meetings may limit the size of the group with recommendations for visitors to join virtually. Keypads to enter secure locations may be converted to accept cards or require sanitation between uses. Larger institutions may consider additional protections such as Wells Fargo’s decision to use an on-site nursing service to screen for symptoms at their 56 largest locations.
Sample Reopening Guides and Resources
The Farmers Bank of Appomattox provided their reopening guide at https://www.vabankers.org/sites/main/files/file-attachments/return_to_normal_operations_guideline.pdf?1588622229
South Dakota’s Banks “Back to Normal” Resource https://www.sdba.com/assets/coronavirus/SDBanksBacktoNormalResource.pdf
Compliance Alliance Pandemic Planning for Banks webpage has several examples and checklists for banks during their assessment and reopening procedures. https://compliancealliance.com/about-us/pandemic-planning-for-banks