Laurie Tyler of FPCU Introduces The Branch That Knows Your Name

Think you can’t build a dynamic, technology-laden branch of the future for $225,000 or less? One California cooperative proves otherwise.


At a time when consumers have access to smart phones, smart cars, and even smart homes, their expectation that service should be tailored to their personal needs and preferences — all at the touch of a button — is growing. But what does this mean for your members’ financial lives, particularly in regards to branches?

Some may question whether cooperative institutions can really afford to bring a “smart” experience to their members using something as traditional as brick and mortar. But in many ways, they can’t afford not to.

Financial Partners Credit Union CEO Laurie Tyler Explains:

“People aren’t using a lot of the cash services in the branch that they may have relied on in the past,” says Laurie Tyler, vice president of sales and member service for Financial Partners Credit Union ($794M, Downey, CA). “With mobile and online options, shared branching, retail locations, and ATMs, there are so many other opportunities to make deposits and withdrawals in alternative ways."

In March, Financial Partners complemented its existing footprint of five full-service branches with a new 1000-square-foot cashless location — at a cost of just $225,000. Staffed by just two individuals who work staggered hours from 7 to 3 and noon to 8 (with reps from a neighboring location subbing during lunch breaks or employee absences), this branch is just steps away from a neighboring hospital as well as several related medical facilities, which are among the select employee groups (SEGs) that Financial Partners serves. The branch was designed with the unique needs of these employees in mind.

“When we looked at what our members really want, particularly with regard to the many nurses and doctors we serve as part of our SEGs, they typically work long shifts and are very busy,” Tyler says. “They prefer to use a lot of technology to help them save time, and that same technology can also help the credit union keep costs down.”

Technology That Builds Relationships

The new location incorporates a kiosk from digital signage company AdQue that seamlessly melds the efficiency of self service with a personalized, concierge-like touch.

Branch visitors “check in” by swiping a driver’s license or any magnetic-stripe identification card they have handy at a kiosk near the entrance, which captures their name and asks them about the purpose of their visit. From there, the kiosk indicates the number of people that are ahead in line.

If the ATM or one of several iPad terminals at the branch can address the purpose of the visit, the kiosks inform the member of that option.

“All deposits must go through the ATM,” Tyler says. “We can accept checks, but we really emphasize our remote deposit option and will typically show branch visitors how to use that function instead.”

If the task is complicated or if the member prefers employee assistance, the kiosk snaps a picture of the person, estimates the wait time, and instructs the individual to have a seat in the branch.

As soon as one is available, the financial service representative — equipped with the member’s identity, photo, the purpose of the visit, and a wireless-enabled iPad connected to the institution’s secure network — greets and then guides the member through the transaction that prompted the visit. 

“Even if the branch is crowded or the member is there with someone else, the system will let us pick that individual out directly and say, ‘Come on over, Sue — let’s help you with that transfer or that mortgage loan,’” Tyler says. “We don’t have desks so the representative can stand side by side with the member or everyone can pull up a stool and sit together.”

Phase two of the kiosk system will display targeted ads or other information on the many electronic monitors throughout the branch, based on what the waiting members have expressed an interest in.

© Callahan & Associates |


Generated by Callahan & Associates' Peer-to-Peer Software

Given their additional training and relative autonomy, the branch’s two financial service representatives essentially are able to act as branch managers, financial counselors, tellers, and loan officers all rolled into one. From transfers to gift cards, loan applications to eSignatures, these reps can handle any cashless process the member needs right from their tablet.

However, for more specialized products such as small business loans, investment consultations, or in-depth mortgage interviews, members must schedule visits with the appropriate employee or consultant in advance; the location boasts two glass-enclosed offices for that purpose.

Rewriting The Rules For Branch Blueprints

An emphasis on consumer technology that members already know how to use rather than on bulky, branch-specific terminals and workstations helps generate a hip, retail vibe on a cooperative budget.

“We took a look at what consumers were experiencing when they walked into an Apple Store or a Starbucks, and then asked ourselves. ‘What do we want members to experience when they come into our offices?’” Tyler says. “We feel like this new branch is a great model for us.”

© Callahan & Associates |


Generated by Callahan & Associates' Peer-to-Peer Software.

Compared with the $1.5 million or more needed to build a full-size facility, this alternative branch certainly represents a budget-conscious option. Though small, it is still capable of producing comparable results in line with its more cost-heavy peers.

Over the next 12 months, this particular location is expected to generate roughly 720 new members, 660 new checking accounts, 144 credit cards, $3.2 million in consumer loans, $2.5 million in home equity loans, and $5 million in mortgage loans.

While Financial Partners plans to make numerous tweaks and changes over time, this flagship branch will most likely be used as a blueprint for future expansion.  

“We see this location as the perfect marriage between an online platform and a retail platform, allowing our members to experience the future of branch operations,” says CEO Nader Moghaddam. “We think word will spread quite quickly about the cool factor this branch holds for visitors.”