Should 1,900 Banks Restructure After Tax Reform?


strategy-2-18-19.pngOne of the big story lines of 2018 was tax reform, which should put more money in the pockets of consumers and businesses to grow, hire, and borrow more from banks.

Shareholders of Subchapter-S banks may ask whether the benefits of Sub-S status are as meaningful in the new tax environment. Roughly 35 percent of the 5,400 banks in the U.S. are Subchapter-S corporations, and given the changes brought by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, some choices made under the prior tax regime should be revisited.

Prior to tax reform, the benefits of Sub-S status were apparent given the double taxation of C-Corp earnings with its corporate tax rate of 35 percent, plus the individual dividend tax rate of 20 percent. That’s compared to the S-Corp, which only carried the individual income tax rate up to 39.5 percent.

Tax reform lowered the C-Corp tax rate to 21 percent, lowered the maximum individual rate to 37 percent, and created a potential 20 percent deduction of S-Corp pass-through earnings, all of which make the choice much more complicated.

Add complexities about how to calculate the 20 percent pass-through deduction on S-Corp earnings, the 3.8 percent net investment income tax on C-Corp dividends and some S-Corp pass-through earnings, and it becomes more challenging to decide which is best.

Here are some broad concepts to consider:

  • S-Corp shareholders are taxed on the corporation’s earnings at the individual’s tax rate. If the corporation does not pay dividends to shareholders, the individual tax is being paid before the individual receives the actual distribution. 
  • The individual tax on S-Corp earnings may be mitigated by the 20 percent pass-through deduction allowed by the IRS, but not all the rules have been written yet. 
  • A C-Corp will pay the 21 percent corporate tax, but individual tax liability is deferred until shareholders are paid dividends. The longer the deferral, the more likely a C-Corp structure could be more tax efficient.

The impact of growth, acquisitions, distributions, and capitalization requirements are interrelated and critical in determining which entity makes the most sense.

If a bank is growing quickly and distributing a large percentage of its earnings, its retained earnings may not be sufficient to maintain required capital levels and may require outside capital, especially if the bank is considering growth through acquisition. Because an S-Corp is limited in the type and number of shareholders, its access to outside capital may also be limited, often to investments by management, board, friends, family and community members.

A bank with little or no growth may be able to fully distribute its earnings and still maintain required capital levels. Depending on the impact of Internal Revenue Code Section 199A, state taxes, the 3.8 percent net investment income tax and other factors, Subchapter S status may be more tax efficient.

Section 199A permits the deduction of up to 20 percent of qualifying trade or business income and can be critical to determining whether Subchapter-S makes sense. For shareholders with income below certain thresholds, the deduction is not controversial and can have a big impact.

For shareholders with income above the thresholds, the deduction could be limited or eliminated if the business income includes specified service trade or business income, which includes investment management fees and may include trust and fiduciary fees and other non-interest income items.

S-Corp structures can be terminated at any time. If your bank is a C-Corp and considering a Subchapter S election for the 2019 calendar tax year, the election is due on or before March 15, 2019.

Given the level of complexity and amount of change brought about by the new tax legislation, it is clear that that decisions made under the old rules should be revisited.

2019 Bank M&A Survey: What’s Driving Growth


acquisition-12-3-18.pngOver the past year, Congress has passed both tax reform and regulatory relief—signed into law by President Donald Trump in December 2017 and May 2018, respectively. And the Trump administration has appointed regulators who appear to be more favorable to the industry, including former bankers Joseph Otting, to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and Jelena McWilliams, to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

As a result, the 184 bank executives and directors participating in the 2019 Bank M&A Survey, sponsored by Crowe LLP, voice a resoundingly positive view of Washington, particularly for Trump and Mick Mulvaney. Eighty-seven percent say the Trump administration has had a positive impact on the banking industry. The same percentage give glowing marks to Mulvaney, the interim head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau who has turned the agency into less of a regulatory cop and more into a regulator with an even-handed approach toward the financial industry.

The survey examines industry attitudes about issues impacting M&A and growth, along with expected acquisition plans and expectations for the U.S. economy through 2019. It was conducted in September and October 2018.

Tax reform had a big impact on the industry, with many making investments to grow their business. Thirty-seven percent say their bank invested in new growth initiatives as a result of tax reform, and 36 percent in new technology. One-quarter indicate the bank raised employee salaries, and 19 percent paid a one-time bonus to employees. Some shareholders saw gains as well: 25 percent of respondents say their bank paid a dividend, and 10 percent bought back stock.

When asked where the bank designated the largest percentage of its tax windfall, 32 percent point to new growth initiatives, and 26 percent to shareholders.

Additional Findings

  • More than half believe the current environment is more favorable for deals, and 50 percent say they’re likely to acquire another bank by the end of 2019.
  • Thirty percent believe their bank is more likely to acquire as a result of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act, which rolled back some regulations for the banking industry. Two-thirds indicate regulatory reform will have no impact on their M&A plans.
  • Acquiring deposits is very attractive to today’s potential dealmakers: 71 percent say the potential target’s deposit base is a highly important factor in making the decision to acquire. 
  • To better compete for deposits, 29 percent say their bank will acquire deposits via acquisition.
  • Fifty-three percent say branch locations in attractive or growing markets are highly important, and 49 percent place high value on lending teams or talented lenders at the target.
  • Despite more sympathetic regulators and the passage of regulatory relief, 72 percent say their bank’s examiners have grown no less stringent over the past two years.

To view the full results to the survey, click here.

Three Important Things Jerome Powell Said To Congress


strategy-8-9-18.pngJerome Powell’s semi-annual appearance before Congress was perhaps a bit more newsworthy than it has been for past chairmen of the Federal Reserve, and his core message signals a few key moves that will certainly impact how banks manage themselves over the next several months.

Powell’s appearance was overshadowed with questions about trade policy and what was happening further down Pennsylvania Avenue, but the core message from Powell, who has been on the job for less than a year, was that the central bank is continuing on a path toward normalization of interest rates, a place the U.S. economy hasn’t seen in a decade or longer.

Despite the tangents that media-savvy politicians tried to take Powell down, his core messages as it applies to bankers is important and provides signals as to how the Fed will manage the economy over the next several months.

Here’s some takeaways:

Bank profitability likely to remain high. Powell’s comments about the overall tax climate and overall business environment point to good things on the horizon for banks, which have reported strong earnings since the end of last year when tax reforms were passed.

Said Powell: “Our financial system is much stronger than before the crisis and is in a good position to meet the credit needs of households and businesses … Federal tax and spending policies likely will continue to support the expansion.”
Second-quarter results have illustrated that, with some banks reporting quarterly earnings per share around 40 percent above last year.

Fed getting back to “normal.” For several years since the crisis, the Fed bought large quantities of U.S. Treasury bonds—known as quantitative easing—to pump cash into the market and boost the economy. With plenty of indicators that the economy is now humming, Powell said the Fed has begun allowing those securities to mature, bringing that practice to an end.

“Our policies reflect the strong performance of the economy and are intended to help make sure that this trend continues,” Powell said.

“The payment of interest on balances held by banks in their accounts at the Federal Reserve has played a key role in carrying out these policies … Payment of interest on these balances is our principal tool for keeping the federal funds rate in the FOMC’s target range. This tool has made it possible for us to gradually return interest rates to a more normal level without disrupting financial markets and the economy.”

Cybersecurity tops list of risks. In his appearance before the House Financial Services Committee, Powell said cybersecurity, and the unexpected threats therein, is what keeps him up at night, aside from what he called “elevated” asset prices that would fall under more traditional concerns, like commercial real estate.

Preparing for the worst-case cybersecurity scenario is top-of-mind, he said, even more than traditional risks. Preventing and preparing should be the focus, he said.

“(Do) as much as possible, and then double it,” he said, a signal of how serious the Fed views the issue.
He then tamped that statement down, and said the Fed “does a great deal” with its supervision of banks, and advised them to continually maintain “basic cyber hygiene” by keeping up to date on emerging trends and threats.

“We do everything we can to prevent failure, but then we have to ask what would we do if there were a successful cyberattack,” he said. “We have to have a plan for that too.”

Acquire or Be Acquired Perspectives: How to Address the Social Issues of M&A


culture-5-4-18.png	Steele_Sally.pngThis is the final installment in a five-part series that examines the bank M&A market from the perspective of five attendees at Bank Director’s Acquire or Be Acquired conference, which occurred in late January at the Arizona Biltmore resort in Phoenix.

Read the perspectives of other industry leaders:
John Asbury, president and CEO of Union Bankshares
Gary Bronstein, a partner at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP
Eugene Ludwig, founder and CEO of Promontory Financial Group
Kirk Wycoff, managing partner of Patriot Financial Partners, L.P.


It is tempting to think that last year’s tax cuts will spur deal-making in the bank industry. The cuts have driven up profits and bolstered valuations, with bank stocks trading at their highest earnings multiples since before the financial crisis. But deal volume ebbed instead of flowed last year.

“The tax reform allows potential sellers to wait longer to see how things evolve,” says Sally Steele, chairwoman of Community Bank System, Inc., an $11-billion bank based in Dewitt, New York.

Steele made this point while attending Bank Director’s 2018 Acquire or Be Acquired conference in January at the Arizona Biltmore resort in Phoenix. Her perspective on the M&A landscape is one of five that Bank Director cultivated from attendees at the event.

Whether it is prudent for a bank to sit on the sidelines as things evolve, rather than take advantage of a high valuation, is a risk—particularly when it comes to regulation. “You might have a four-year window where we have a kinder, gentler regulatory environment,” Steele notes.

All of this speaks to the axiom that banks are sold, not bought. “Folks have to come to a decision that selling is a good strategy, whatever the motivation,” says Steele.

Value plays an obvious role in this decision, but it alone is not enough. Social issues involving leadership and culture also play a major role, Steele says.

For instance, succession is a perennial topic of conversation in the industry. As leaders retire, it can be hard to find successors that are qualified to step into the void. One way to address this is to sell the bank.

There are also times when the current leadership is not a good fit, irrespective of retirement. This came up in one of Community Bank System’s recent acquisitions, where the CEO was better suited to be a commercial lender than the CEO.

Steele speaks on these issues from experience, as she has served as a director of banks that have been both buyers and sellers.

Prior to serving on the board of Community Bank System, Steele was a director of Grange National Banc Corp., a Pennsylvania-based bank that grew to $278 million in assets before selling in 2003 to her current bank.

Since then, Community Bank System has acquired seven other banks, the biggest and most recent being Merchants Bancshares, a $1.9-billion bank based in Vermont, acquired last year.

The principal motivation for buyers tends to be growth. The bank industry has consolidated every year since 1984. Prior to that, the number of banks in the country tended to grow on an annual basis. Since then, it has dropped without interruption every year.

Given this, it is easy to understand why banks are so inclined to grow. There comes a point in a consolidating industry when the law of the jungle takes hold, forcing banks to choose between eating or being eaten.

This motivation helps explain the tendency for mergers and acquisitions to impair, as opposed to improve, shareholder value. It was the imperative to grow, after all, that led banks in the prelude to the financial crisis to acquire subprime mortgage originators, as Bank of America Corporation did with Countrywide Financial and Wachovia did with Golden West.

Regardless of the numbers, however, Steele emphasizes the central role that culture plays in the acquisition process. “From a buyer’s perspective, it’s about how the combination fits,” says Steele. “Fits in a lot of different ways, not only monetarily and economically, but also the culture is huge. Bringing in the wrong culture just doesn’t work. I don’t care what anybody says, it doesn’t work.”

As the chairwoman of an acquisitive bank, this is one reason Steele attends the annual Acquire or Be Acquired conference, coming four out of the last five years.

“I’ve been through the acquisition process, and it’s a scary thing,” says Steele. “There is a lot of distrust when folks start approaching you about that kind of thing. So having rapport and thinking, ‘Oh, I met that person at the conference.’ That’s helpful. So much of it is personal. I don’t care what anybody says.”

What To Know About BOLI Today



Bank-owned life insurance is a common tool that helps financial institutions offset the costs of employee benefits, and boards should review the BOLI program every year. Steve Marlow and Kelly Earls of Bank Compensation Consulting explain what boards should know about BOLI, including the impact of tax reform.

  • Why Banks Purchase BOLI
  • Evaluating Existing Programs
  • Impact of Bank Size on BOLI Options
  • How Tax Reform Will Affect BOLI

How to Give Employees a Slice of the Tax Reform Pie


compensation-3-2-18.pngThe $1.5 trillion tax law that was signed in December reduces the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, and should provide an economic windfall for U.S. companies as well as the banking industry. The legislation does include some negative impacts to executive compensation by ending the performance-based exemption through Internal Revenue Code Section 162(m) for compensation over $1 million, but overall, the change in tax rate should bring additional revenue to all companies. Employees are expecting a slice of the pie.

Several Fortune 500 companies, including Wells Fargo & Co., AT&T, JP Morgan Chase & Co., U.S. Bancorp, Wal-Mart, Apple and The Walt Disney Co. have given employees special bonuses, and in certain instances have raised the minimum wage to $15 per hour. These bonuses and raises were given without consideration to employee or company performance, and may set expectations or encourage a feeling of entitlement to future compensation increases regardless of performance.

Community banks should exercise caution when making special salary adjustments and bonus payouts. Salary increases and bonuses without performance or market-driven reasons will drive up fixed costs for the bank, which could impact the achievement of future budget or profitability goals. Raising the minimum wage may also cause salary compression at lower levels of the organization, and make differentiating pay between managers and employees, or high performers and low performers, difficult.

Be Strategic with Salary Increases
Because employee expectations for pay increases are high in relation to the potential for the organization to reap additional profits, we recommend that banks make strategic changes to their salary increase methodology.

One such change is to increase the overall budget for salary increases. A study conducted by Blanchard Consulting Group at the end of 2017, which included over 100 banks, found that the average projected salary increase in the banking industry is 3 percent for 2018. Instead of raising the minimum wage, an alternative would be to increase the salary increase budget from 3 percent to 3.25 or 3.5 percent. This would allow all employees to enjoy the windfall from the additional income projected from tax reform, and maintain the bank’s ability to tie performance and market position into the salary increase process. For example, if an employee is meeting performance expectations, that person would be eligible for the higher base salary increase of 3.25 percent. If the employee is exceeding performance expectations or the salary is below market, that employee may get a higher increase. If the employee is meeting some expectations or no expectations, that individual may get half of the budgeted increase or no increase at all.

Use the Windfall to Increase the Bonus Pool
In regard to employee bonus plans, your bank may consider increasing its annual incentive plan payout levels to coincide with the anticipated increase in bank profitability. For example, if the target bonus payout was 4 percent of salary (or about two weeks’ pay) for staff-level employees, the bank may want to increase the target payout to 6 percent of salary because of the additional profits from the tax reform law. In order to pay out this 6 percent bonus, end-of-year bank profitability goals still need to be met, which keeps the employee’s focus on performance and does not encourage a feeling of entitlement to the bonus payout.

We also recommend that a threshold payout—the minimum performance level at which a bonus may be paid—be incorporated into the incentive plan design. The payout may be linked to a performance goal that is similar to the previous year’s profitability level, with a bonus amount equal to the previous year’s payout. This methodology could also be used for officer and executive plans that typically incorporate higher payout opportunity levels.

If your bank considers this approach, we recommend testing the reasonableness of the program by examining the total payouts of your bonus plan for all employees (staff and executives) as compared to total profits. Typically, if a bank is meeting budget, the bonus plan will share approximately 10 percent of the profits with all employees through cash incentive payouts. If the bank is exceeding budget—for example, profits are 20 percent above the target—the bank may share 15 to 20 percent of the profits with employees.

The passage of tax reform has created an expectation with employees across the nation that their compensation packages will be positively impacted. Despite the expected positive effect on bank income, it is still a difficult environment for banks due to regulations and increased competition. We recommend that banks be strategic in allocating increased profits into a compensation plan that rewards employees for performance and ensures that the bank is meeting or exceeding its annual goals.

Investor Pressure Points for the 2018 Proxy Season


proxy-2-9-18.pngInvestors need to stay focused on long-term performance and strategy in 2018. So says Larry Fink, the chief executive of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager with $6.3 trillion in assets under management, in a recent and well-circulated letter. “Companies must be able to describe their strategy for long-term growth,” says Fink. “A central reason for the risk of activism—and wasteful proxy fights—is that companies have not been explicit enough about their long-term strategies.”

Focusing on long-term success isn’t controversial, but Fink’s letter underlines the fact that proxy advisors and investment management firms are more frequently looking at broader issues—gender diversity and equality, and other cultural and environment risks—that can serve as indicators of long-term performance.

Board composition will continue to be a growing issue. BlackRock, along with State Street Global Advisors, the asset management subsidiary of State Street Corp., both actively vote against directors where boards lack a female member. “[Institutional investors] are tired of excuses,” says Rusty O’Kelley, global leader of the board consulting and effectiveness practice at Russell Reynolds Associates. “Regional banks [in particular] need to take a very close look at board quality and composition.” Fink, in his letter, said that diverse boards are more attuned to identifying opportunities for growth, and less likely to overlook threats to the business as they’re less prone to groupthink.

The use of board matrices, which help boards examine director expertise, and disclosure within the proxy statement about the use of these matrices, are increasingly common, according to O’Kelley. The varied skill sets found on the board should link to the bank’s overall strategy, and that should be communicated to shareholders. Expertise in cybersecurity is increasingly desired, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the board should seek to add a dedicated cybersecurity expert. “Institutional investors view cybersecurity as a risk the entire board should be paying attention to,” says O’Kelley. “They want all directors to be knowledgeable.”

Some investors are pursuing gender equality outside of the boardroom. On February 5, 2018, Bank of New York Mellon Corp. disclosed the pay gap between men and women—the fourth bank to do so in less than a month, following Citigroup, Bank of America Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co. “Investors are demanding gender pay equity on Wall Street, and we have no intention of easing up,” said Natasha Lamb, managing partner at the investment firm Arjuna Capital, in a release commenting on BNY Mellon’s gender pay disclosure. These banks, along with JPMorgan Chase & Co., Mastercard and American Express, rejected Arjuna’s proposals last year to disclose the pay gap between male and female employees, along with policies and goals to address any gap in compensation.

A domino effect can occur with these types of issues. “[Activist investors will] move on to the next bank,” says Charles Elson, director of the Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware.

Shareholders are aware that cultural risks can damage an organization. This includes bad behavior by employees—Wells Fargo’s account opening scandal, for example—as well as an organization’s approach to sexual harassment and assault, an issue that has received considerable attention recently due to the “Me Too” movement. “Shareholders are very focused on whether or not boards and management teams are doing a sufficient job in trying to understand what the tone is throughout the organization, understand what the corporate culture is,” says Paul DeNicola, managing director at PwC’s Governance Insights Center. Metrics such as employee turnover or the level of internal complaints can be used to analyze the organization’s culture, and companies should have a crisis management plan and employee training program in place. Boards are more frequently engaging with employees also, adds DeNicola.

Investors are keenly aware of environmental risks following a year that witnessed a record-setting loss estimate of $306 billion due to natural disasters, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Institutional investors expect boards to consider the business risk related to environmental change, says O’Kelley, particularly if the bank is at greater risk due to, for example, a high level of real estate loans in coastal areas.

Finally, investors will be looking at how organizations use the expected windfall from tax reform. “What will you do with the increased after-tax cash flow, and how will you use it to create long-term value?” said Fink in his letter. It’s an opportunity for companies to communicate with shareholders regarding how additional earnings will be distributed to shareholders and employees, and investments made to improve the business.

In an appearance on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Fink explained that BlackRock votes with the companies it invests in 91 percent of the time due to the engagement that occurs before the proxy statement is released. Fink’s preference is that engagement occurs throughout the year—not just during proxy season—to produce better long-term results for the company’s investors.

Engaging with shareholders—and listening to their concerns—can help companies succeed in a serious proxy battle. “If you have good relations with your investors, you’re apt to, in a contest, fair a bit better,” says Elson.

Capitalizing on Good Times



With a strong economy, a corporate tax cut and more sympathetic regulators in Washington, banks have a lot to look forward to in 2018. But don’t confuse brains with a bull market—or a tax cut, says Tom Brown of Second Curve Capital. Happy days may be here again, but banks can’t afford to be complacent. In this interview with Steve Williams, a principal at Cornerstone Advisors, Brown offers four tips for CEOs looking to invest their bank’s expected tax windfall back into the business.

  • The Need To Transform
  • How CEOs Should Focus Their Attention

Strengthening Your Bank’s M&A Strategy



Bank M&A activity will likely increase in 2018, but many banks don’t have the in-house expertise and procedures to successfully navigate a deal. Phil Weaver of PwC explains the factors that will fuel deal volume and why banks need to update their M&A playbooks.

  • Why 2018 Will See More Deals
  • Beefing Up the Bank’s M&A Playbook
  • Talent Considerations in Executing a Deal

Five Issues Bank Boards Should Consider Now


governance-12-18-17.pngThere are a number of significant issues and emerging trends affecting U.S. companies and the economy, both of which are crucial to the health and vibrancy of the financial institutions sector. In this environment, it is imperative that bank executives and board members think about five key issues in evaluating their strategic plans. These are areas in which changes have already taken place or are on the verge of being implemented.

1. Regulatory changes
Financial institutions face a number of regulatory and accounting changes. First, a new rule under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act requires 48 new or modified data points, which will allow regulators to determine if unfair lending practices are occurring. The new rules promise to be expensive to implement.

Institutions growing via acquisition should consider how adoption of the CECL model will affect accounting for loans, securities and other affected instruments at the target institution. And the new standard for revenue recognition issued jointly by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) could prove more challenging than many institutions realize.

2. Tax reform
Banks have expanded to new markets to generate loan growth in response to a challenging rate environment. However, many have not considered the state and local tax liabilities for loans originated outside of their physical footprint. To date, certain states have not rigorously enforced compliance, but banks could be on the radar as cash-strapped state and local governments face revenue shortfalls.

If Congress passes a tax reform bill that lowers the corporate tax rate, institutions in a net deferred tax asset position will need to realize the adverse effect that the new rate would have on the value of its assets. The impairment of the value of the deferred tax asset would need to be recognized upon the effective date of the tax change, resulting in a corresponding decrease in regulatory capital. Institutions may consider increasing their deferred tax liabilities as part of their year-end tax planning process to minimize the impact of any rate decrease on the value of the deferred asset. Further, the expected impact should be factored into capital planning. Institutions that have made a subchapter S election should also monitor the outcome of individual tax reform in combination with corporate tax reform to determine if the subchapter S election remains the most tax-efficient model for operations.

3. Data management
Financial technology firms capture the same consumer data that community banks do, but typically are more effective in their ability to leverage and capitalize on it. Large banks are harnessing this data as well, but smaller banks may not have the resources to make the effort profitable. The data may be residing in multiple systems, or it may be inaccurate or outdated. But the ability to efficiently capture and leverage data will fundamentally change how banks go to market and drive profitability. Banks that want to capitalize on the consumer data they already have will need to make a strategic decision to imitate fintech companies or partner with them.

In addition, regulators are increasing reporting requirements for institutions as a way to conduct efficient, ongoing monitoring, which is fundamentally changing the way regulatory exams are conducted. Institutions that can leverage data for risk management purposes will see better regulatory outcomes and improved profitability.

Cybersecurity remains an immediate threat, and regulatory scrutiny in this area has ramped up accordingly. Banks need to have an effective data security plan in place to deal with the threats that come with gathering so much information.

4. Labor and workforce
A lack of qualified workers may constrain growth, service and innovation if not addressed from a strategic perspective. It has become particularly difficult to find qualified and well-trained credit analysts and compliance officers in a tight labor market. Given most community and regional banks’ focus on commercial real estate lending, the projected shortage of qualified appraisers presents a significant challenge. Banks in smaller markets are particularly challenged in attracting and retaining talent, but they can partially or completely outsource many responsibilities, such as those in information technology, asset liability management and regulatory compliance. A thoughtful approach to outsourcing can assist in maintaining core activities while allowing internal resources to focus on strategic activities.

5. Changing consumer preferences
As customers move to digital channels, acquiring new customers—and increasing wallet share of existing customers—should be top areas of strategic focus throughout 2018. Boomers are shifting from accumulating wealth to maintaining and preserving it, and as a group they prefer a mix of in-person and digital interactions. In an effort to retain these customers, many banks are modernizing branches into sleek, welcoming locations with a number of amenities and educating this demographic on the ability to leverage digital channels in a secure manner, while also responding to the digital demands of younger consumers.

Banks need to find the balance between the digital and the personal, and be agile enough to respond to these changing preferences.