In the growing age of technology and the Internet, are brick and motor branches needed for credit unions to remain successful in the years to come? I would argue that branches are an essential part of the credit union world. While in the future institutions may not require as many physical branches as they currently have, there are still a number of reasons that eliminating them all together is not what consumers want or need. For credit unions these branches are even more important as credit unions are member owned, and if a member wants to seek assistance in person that is what needs to happen. Even a great majority of Generation Y consumers will not open an account with an institution that does not have a local branch. .
It cannot be denied that with so many technological advances that consumers enter branches less often than they once did. Sure, there are an unlimited number of things they can complete online, but that does not mean that consumers do not want to option of walking into a branch and getting help from someone in person when they feel the need to. Consumers want the "human" factor; they want to see a real live person and do not want to be limited to interacting with a machine or automated system. For example, opening a new account can come with a lot of questions and therefore the majority of new accounts are opened in branches face to face. Even Generation Y consumers, whom are more technologically inclined, prefer opening their accounts in person in a branch. Actually "80% of all current accounts are opened in branches, 75% of Gen Y customers conclude their product purchases in a branch and 67% of all sales are made in a branch." (Skinner, 2012) When looking for an institution for their financial needs, most people choose an institution that offers multichannel options with one of those options being an institution with a local branch they can use.