Where are you holding client meetings theses days? The evolution of answers to that question has been changing for some time.
As a young banker in the 1980s, there was only one: in the bank. The industry was free of much of its present competition and we were frequently referred to as ‘Order Takers’ since the steady stream of visiting clients meant we rarely left the building.
Later that decade, the number of U.S. banks peaked at about 15,000, but at that time there were only about 45,000 bank branches. After the S&L crisis, M&A of the 90s and financial crisis of 2008, the number of banks fell to about 7,000. But according to the FDIC, at the end of 2013 the number of bank branches had grown to more than 93,000!
It’s likely that number will begin to fall regularly as 2014 has begun another round of mergers and consolidations in the banking sector. Branches are expensive and clients are moving more and more activities online, from deposits and account management, to credit card applications and statement access.
If you’re an SBA lender, it’s likely that you’ve been primarily meeting clients at their office for years, since site visits are an essential part of gathering information (and beating the competition). If not you should start getting out there more often.
Besides getting to know your clients better and gathering applications faster, most prognosticators predict that branches are going to start disappearing.
Here’s some bank branch trivia (answers below):
1. As of 3/31/14, how many U.S. banks had 0 branches
2. As a group, what percentage of the total 96,761bank branches were owned by the ten largest banks?
3. Which bank owns the largest U.S. branch network?