The traditional teller may become a thing of the past at PNC Bank, but it's not a trend some locally owned institutions are looking to follow.
Pittsburgh-based PNC Bank plans to get rid of traditional tellers in most of its 2,700 branches across 19 states within five years.
"We're in the midst of a fundamentally changing retail delivery channel," said PNC President and CEO William Demchak. "Today, 90 percent of our physical branches are traditional branches. In five years, we want it to only be a third of them. We're going to change the world, remove tellers so that we have more automation, have more universal sales people in a branch, have much smaller square footage and introduce technology that will drop the operating costs out of it and it will deliver a service that tomorrow's bank client expects."
(Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski)
Reliance Bank teller Carol Wagner waits on Chris Bertani of Altoona on Monday afternoon at its branch office at 1921 Pleasant Valley Blvd.
The "vast majority" of tellers who work at branches that will be converted in the next five years will become "financial consultants" in what the bank calls "universal branches."
A universal branch has no teller counter or window area. Instead, it features a "concierge desk," where customers are greeted by a financial consultant who helps with investment, mortgage or retirement needs, as well as transactions.
The tellers are being trained to handle other duties as well, said Chad Clabaugh, retail market manager in central Pennsylvania for PNC, which has several offices in the State College area.
"We want to create an experience where our employees are more knowledgeable and more efficient in talking to customers. This gives the employees a chance to take on other roles to make the experience for our customers much better," Clabaugh said. "We made a significant investment in training our employees.We want our customers to have employees that are more vested in our products and able to fill their needs."
Universal branches appear to be a trend of the future, said Rich Stimel, First Commonwealth Bank spokesman.
"I think the transition from a traditional teller role that is more transactional in nature to an advisory-based position that is more consultative will be more prevalent throughout the banking industry over the next several years," Stimel said. "For our organization, it really comes down to continually refining and improving how we deliver financial solutions to our customers. And as a community bank, we believe that our people are the most important part of that equation."
Officials of another area bank constantly review customer patterns and preferences.
"We continually review customer traffic patterns and preferences to help us refine our approach to meeting customers' needs using a blend of personal service and user-friendly technology, such as enhanced ATMs. We want to provide customers with choices so they can bank when, where and how they want using a branch, ATM and online and mobile banking," said Lauren DiGeronimo, spokeswoman for Citizens Bank, a subsidiary of RBS Citizens Financial Group.
M&T Bank has no plans to do away with tellers.
"We employ tellers at our local branches, and we currently have no such changes to the teller job planned. We do invest in services, such as deposit-taking ATMs at most of our branches, which provide additional convenience for M&T customers," said spokesman Philip Hosmer.
Two locally owned banks also don't plan to eliminate tellers.
"Our goal is to serve our customers how they want to be served - in person, online, mobile. We do not have plans to eliminate traditional tellers," said Reliance Bank spokeswoman Lisa Michelone.
"We have no plans whosoever. The area we live in is an older community and the people enjoy coming into the bank to talk to tellers," said President Gary Pfahler of Altoona First Savings Bank.