MEDFORD, Ore. – The Internet and online banking may be affecting branch networks, but one person says that branch locations are still critically important – especially when consumers are searching online for a new financial institution.

Rob Rubin, managing director at Novarica, told the Financial Brand that more than half of consumers shopping for a new FI only want to compare institutions within five miles of home or work. That data comes from recent searches via Novarica’s site. The website does not appear to include credit unions in its search results, but the data is still important for CUs, as they are increasingly reliant on online servicing in favor of branch networks.

The Novarica data also found that consumers in more densely populated areas prefer closer branches, while those in rural communities are more likely to expand their search options – in part, Rubin hypothesized, because they are already used to driving long distances for other things, such as groceries and gas.

Novarica’s data also found that those whose search options extended beyond just five miles from their location tended to maintain higher account balances. Yet even as credit unions have pushed mobile banking solutions as an alternative for those who cannot get to nearby branches, Novarica found “little difference in the percent of shoppers who ‘must have’ mobile banking options when comparing responses by the radius of their search,” wrote Rubin.


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