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PNC Converting Branches As More Customers Bank Online

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Personal banking at PNC may not be quite so personal, as the bank scales back branch banks and transforms them into something called "universal branches."

"Today 90 percent of our physical branches are traditional branches," said CEO Bill Demchak. "In five years, we want it to only be a third of them."

At a conference with Goldman Sachs in New York, Demchak said this transformation means removing most tellers from PNC banks.

"We are going to change the world that will remove tellers so we have more automation, have more universal sales people in the branch, have much smaller square footage, introduce technology," Demchak said. "It will drop the operating cost out of it and it will deliver a service that tomorrow's bank client expects."

Duquesne University business professor Tom Nist says PNC is reflecting a reality where customers prefer online or ATM banking.

"They're very few transactions at the teller window relative to what we might have seen 10, 20 years ago," Nist said.

Instead of tellers, customers will go to a bank consultant at a desk for assistance, including how to use the automated machines. PNC says it will train tellers for the jobs.

"We are a self-service culture right now," Nist said. "We used to stand in line to deposit a check and then one day the ATM opened u and we could do it 24 hours a day. Now we can take a picture of our check on an iPhone, send it in and it gets deposited without ever seeing a banker."

And that, says PNC, is why only one out of five of its customers ever visit a branch bank.

If you'd like to see what a future branch bank looks like, PNC says it's converting three branches right now in Burgettstown, Indiana and Perryopolis. Over the next five years, expect to see at least two-thirds of PNC's branches make this conversion to automated, teller-less banking.

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