Where are all the Elephants hiding in FI Branch Transformation Process?

“Where are all the Elephants hiding, then?” is one of many questions we approach in #ElephantinBranch: A Special Report.


We interviewed more than 40 industry leaders about Branch Transformation, and the following is a summary of that exchange as it relates to hiding elephants in that process.



There are questions to be dissected, analyzed, and understood if we are to manage the Elephants (or the issues and challenges that we encounter during our Financial Institutions’ (FI) Branch Transformation) out of our branches. The first thing to consider is where they can be found within the process. The trick is to spotting them as early as during the development of FI Strategy and as late as post-transformation.


Where are all the elephants hiding in the Branch Transformation Process?

Here’s what industry leaders had to say.


In the Financial Institution’s (FI) Strategy


The journey of Branch Transformation (BT) begins with your Financial Institution’s strategy, and it’s the first place where an Elephant can appear.


“FIs must avoid a bottom-up, technology-driven approach for branch transformation and adopt a top-down methodology, starting with FI strategy,” said Danny Tang, IBM Global Banking.  




The journey has to start at the top of the management and strategy team. If it doesn’t, there will be trunks and tusks popping up everywhere going forward.


Without a clear FI strategy and the proper approach, any action is meaningless.


In the FI’s intention and vision


According to Brian Porter, Director of Advisory Services for GLORY, “so many pitfalls occur when the fundamental business reason an FI puts forward to support a Branch Transformation lacks both clarity and substance from senior management, along with omni-channel customer experience strategies.”




Without a defined business reason for implementing a Branch Transformation or adding new facilities, it is difficult to make decisions that will impact the cost of client acquisition.


In technology choices


Technology transformation for the sake of technology does not make for a strategic, effective transformation. There is also an Elephant in traditional approaches to technology development.


Fred Wheeler of Automated Transaction Delivery gave the example of challenges posed by current and traditional ATM suppliers.




“They continue to use a device-centric approach, and attempt to develop the software to enable devices,” he said. “A software-first, or sever-centric, approach, in which kiosks are developed to support the software is now more of a current industry standard.”


In the BT execution


If executing Branch Transformation does not fit in well with the overall FI strategy and omni-channel customer experience strategy, the Elephants will become prolific.


“Elephants will appear if an FI adopts a one-size-fits-all mentality, duplicating the same design, infrastructure, etc. in all branches regardless of dramatically different branch situations,” added GLORY’s Brian Porter. “They will appear if there is a lack of understanding of demographics or change in environments, or of what customers will accept or want.”


In Branch Operations


Elephants tend to show up when operational inefficiencies are uncovered, according to Mark Charette of Solidus. “They also appear when the layering of various technological, logistical, and organizational processes is wrong,” he said.


For example, costly policy setting for specific technologies, or hiring the right staff for the new way of banking, or inappropriate deployment of technologies in certain delivery channels, such as placing an ATM too close to the branch entrance.


Everywhere else

A few more elephant habitats in Branch Transformation that our experts pointed out are:

  1. Keeping or opening branches without justification

  2. Automation of the wrong processes in the absence of prioritizing and quantifying commercial benefits

  3. Not understanding fully that retail is driving consumer behavior and expectations

  4. Customer satisfaction and experience not keeping with the marketing despite process reengineering

  5. Not effectively involving staff in the Branch Transformation process


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