February 9, 2016

CWG discusses “The Future of Banking and Design” in latest issue of The Community Banker

American Federal Bank Bozeman

As seen in the Winter 2016 edition of Montana Independent Bankers The Community Banker

When we think about the development of banks across the West, from the small mining communities to the grand tower in Billings, the changes in architecture and design of these structures has been as unique as it has been vast.

Before long these simple, utilitarian, frontier-type structures became monumental buildings with grand pediments. The evolution of bank design would later progress even further to reflect the benefits of capitalism- high rise constructions garnering towers of glass and ornate interior details, which would become a home to financial and business institutions alike. Banks demonstrated a distinct grandness and strength, becoming the center of business in Montana’s early communities. While the way we design and built banks progressed, the function remained largely the same. Customers could expect a familiar floor plan seen across banks of all shapes and sizes- a large teller area, open office areas surrounding them for administration, and private office areas for executives. Some business owners would be visiting the bank on a daily basis, while private individuals may stop in once a week. For many individuals from small Montana communities, this still may be the way you conduct your banking today. This model allowed for direct contact with individuals and businesses important for the sales of financial services.

Queue technology. Personally and professionally, technology quickly became an integral part of our day-to-day life. With the convenience of your smartphone, you could send out emails, create a shopping list and pay your bills. Soon there was a mobile app for everything, and banking was no exception. With the birth of technology came exponential development in banking. More than 50% of today’s consumers use mobile banking in some form- a quick transfer of funds, online bill pay, or even to deposit a check. It’s just one of the many technological conveniences that make our smart phones, tablets, and computers a central part of our day. While there are certainly customers who stay true to the traditional model mentioned previously, many markets inevitably have faceless customers who conduct all of their banking needs electronically, outside of a banking institution all together.

As architects, the purpose and function of our design takes new form. While the banking business model is changing, so are the consumer demographics and expectations of services. Without question, there are still those who question the security of online services, finding comfort in working with your regular teller, at your local branch, who is familiar with you, your family and your services. This is not uncommon to find in Montana communities large and small. Regardless, technological capabilities will continue to play a part in the banking experience, in varying forms, as banking navigates the road of technology and building businesses that last. As we look to the future, one can anticipate new and innovative designs that facilitate a model of banking that brings banking into a realm unlike anything we’ve seen previously. Opposite of our humble beginnings, we now build to anticipate the changing needs and purpose of banks across Montana.

What are some changes you see in the future of banking?

See the full issue here.