Retail branches: the bank of now, future-proofed & bionic
RATIO wrote this on Aug 23


Like our retail financial service clients, we think, see and hear about the ‘Branch of the Future’.

Whether you call it ‘Future-proofing’, ‘Bionic’ or ‘The Bank of Now’, these terms all refer to the strategic redefinition of retail financial services from operations to branch design.  Redefinition —  to ensure branch strategies meet needs of changing populations by providing centres of advice for life’s milestone moments.  People want face to face, consultative service for high-value transactions like small business loans, mortgages and life insurance.

“Customers have made it clear that they want choice in how to engage with their bank and that they expect service to be consistent, streamlined, and engaging no matter what channel they use. While 43% of survey respondents indicated a preference for digital-only experiences, the same percentage said they want a mix of physical and virtual interactions—a hybrid banking experience in which digital tools and capabilities combine with human input and advice at the moments that matter.”

From the Boston Consulting Group: Accelerating Bionic Transformation


Does the  “Branch of the Future” mean:

  • Physical branched being downsized or eliminated
  • Tellers a thing of the past
  • Technology everywhere
  • Retail is dead

Common financial service trend assumptions have problems:

  • Assumes all needs can be captured efficiently in a self-serve serve fashion
  • Service offerings bear no relationships to one another
  • Member’s needs can be forecasted simply
  • Advice can be gotten online easily
  • Technology can be – if not handled well – an impediment to communication

The path to the branch of the future is evident, with the customer leading the way.  To be competitive and stay relevant service delivery channels must align:

  • Online
  • Across diverse branch locations
  • In person, in business meetings
  • Mobile
  • Remote consulting

The quotes in this post above and below are from an interesting report by Boston Consulting Group on the state of retail financial services. BCG defines future-proofed retail financial services as ‘Bionic Banking’:

” ..blending digital technology and a human touch to deliver the right products and services to target customers: the bionic bank”


The BCG report ‘Accelerating Bionic Transformation follows up on the  2015 report, The Bionic Bank  which outlines six key strengths of  bionic retail banks:

  1. 1. Clear vision
  2. 2. A future-proof distribution model
  3. 3. Customer centricity
  4. 4. Technology and operational excellence
  5. 5. Organizational vitality
  6. 6. Financial and risk control

Read the full explanation of these six key strengths or the entire report here.

Retail financial services must embrace a ‘bionic transformation’

  • Reshape distribution & network
  • Personalize value
  • Redesign customer journeys

“A bionic transformation consists of three interrelated elements. First is the blending of digital and personal interactions to create a more responsive and cost-effective distribution model. Second is the articulation of a value proposition that combines human judgment with data power. And third is the adoption of a customer journey mindset with end-to-end processes that are supported with robotics and machine learning to reduce process intensity and improve customer satisfaction.”


These ideas align with our thinking on the strategic reimagination of the ‘branch of the future’, no matter what it’s called.

Here are few of our Financial Services projects:

Island Savings Credit Union

Valley First Credit Union

Community Savings Credit Union


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Tenant Improvements: Workspace Design that works
RATIO wrote this on Aug 09

Workplace change is a profound adjustment for employees. Successful workspace design projects require a designer who is versed in change management strategies.  For a company’s workspace transition to be successful, a top down process will not work. Your designer should work collaboratively with your team and incorporate strategies such as visioning sessions and peer engagement to minimize employee stress and resistance. Your design partner will ideally communicate and work with you through all project phases from programming and design through procurement, construction administration, and post occupancy analysis. During the construction phase, a full service design firm works as your advocate, reviewing work on site, proactively managing changes and vetting Contractors’ progress draws. All of this ensures a well-coordinated design and construction process, resulting in a successful workspace project.

Distinctive thinking leads to successful workspace design results:

  1. 1.  Choose a design partner who has expertise in change management
  2. 2.  Build an internal project team for decision-making
  3. 3.  Involve your design partner early on – ideally before the lease decision is made
  4. 4.  Select a design partner that can provide a start-to-finish solution. The process should start with information gathering and analysis: everything from current workplace environment, operational efficiencies, overarching corporate goals for the future, marketplace competitors, and brand.
  5. 5.  Engage a value-driven design partner who brings leadership, creativity & project management to the project
  6. 6.  Design with flexibility in mind so workplace can easily evolve to changing needs
  7. 7.  Leverage sustainability benchmarking to ensure a healthy work environment
  8. 8.  Get clarity on the goals of your tenant improvement or renovation
  9. 9.  Evaluate the disruption to your business to mitigate negative impact
  10. 10. Use best practices for workspace design that includes considerations for productivity, flexibility, competition, collaboration and workplace health into the future


Workplace design by RATIO

Over the last several years at RATIO, we have focused our attention on the changing workplace and how we can help our clients plan spaces that will adapt to future needs. It is anticipated that over the next decade we will see an unprecedented change in the way we work as a result of many factors including larger socio-economic shifts, changing age demographics, rising real estate costs and the need to build a more sustainable future. We work with our clients to ensure that their workspaces are healthy, productive and inspiring; and will be easily adaptable to changing needs.


Learn more about RATIO and Workspace  design:

RATIO project page: Legacy Tax + Trust Lawyers

The right office design from plan to success


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