Bank on Design: Five Trends Shaping the Architecture of Financial Institutions

Today's financial institutions are designed to meet the changing needs of customers, branding, technology, staffing, and programming.

From smartphones to interactive teller machines, the way we bank has changed dramatically over the last ten years. How are today’s banks and credit unions evolving to meet the needs of the modern customer?

Branding is about more than a cool logo.

Financial institutions are working harder than ever to differentiate themselves from one another in character, tone, and complete customer experience. Brand messages, imagery, and colors have moved beyond marketing materials and websites to become fully integrated into branch and office spaces. The goal is always to reinforce a company’s unique brand position and customer experience. As old branches are renovated or new branches are constructed, expect to see more and more of a company’s brand come to life in those spaces through wall graphics, colors and finishes, messaging, imagery, and architectural expressions.



Technology is redefining how customers bank.

Interactive teller machines or personal teller machines, known as ITMs or PTMs, are digital kiosks where customers can speak remotely with a live teller using a screen, like a video call. ITMs and PTMs allow customers to complete nearly all of their banking services in one easy location.
You’ll also find tech walls in the lobbies of many of today’s banks and credit unions. These typically consist of interactive monitors with applications for customers to learn about different services and are accessible through touchscreen technology. This allows customers to get the information they need in a quick and easy way, without feeling like they sitting through a sales pitch.



Bank Teller interactions are more efficient and personal.

Winding, long lines are gone, and have been replaced with open teller lines and more interaction between clients and staff. Customers can stand alongside tellers to review accounts on computer screens without the separation of a counter. Some financial institutions use teller pods, which are semi-private stations designed to accommodate one teller and one customer. Pods like these help break down barriers between clients and providers, and encourage more personal connections.


Today’s branches are designed with more private office spaces to meet evolving staffing needs.

As customers adopt tools like ITMs, ATMs, online banking, photo check deposits, and other technology, financial institutions require fewer tellers. However, the demand is growing for more customer service representatives to help with complex services like private loans or mortgages. Private spaces are needed for customers to sit with bankers during the setup process of more complex financial needs.


Branches are getting smaller.

Many older banks feature a large lobby with high, often ornate ceilings. These large spaces were originally designed to serve all the customers waiting in long lines. With these large lobbies, older banks were usually around 10,000 square feet. Today’s branches are closer to 3,500 square feet. Many of those old lobbies are being transformed into smaller lobbies with several private offices. As older financial institutions are renovated, existing spaces are redesigned to accommodate modern technology needs and the one-on-one spaces customers need for a positive retail banking experience. Smaller spaces mean savings for financial institutions and, in turn, their customers.
Trying to predict the future of bank and credit union design can be a bit like speculating, but it's a pretty safe bet that we can expect to see more amenities in the coming years as financial institutions continue to transform spaces to meet the evolving needs of customers and technology.


Adam James, RA
Associate, Registered Architect