Magazine article Independent Banker

Live and Learn

Magazine article Independent Banker

Live and Learn

Article excerpt

A Philadelphia bank opens financial-knowledge retail centers

They don't look or function like a typical community bank branch or retail center.

The two new 2,700-squarefoot branches that Beneficial Bank in Philadelphia opened this past spring look and feel like modern community libraries. The branches, which the bank calls "campuses," support the bank's new branding efforts as a financial knowledge provider as much as a financial services provider.

"We believe we are an education company," explains Joanne Ryder, executive vice president, director of brand and strategy at Beneficial Bank, a $5 billion-asset community bank with about 850 employees at 60 branches throughout Philadelphia and the adjacent Delaware Valley. "We wanted to create a learning hub for people where they could go in and actually learn more about their financial situation, not just open a checking account."

Ryder describes the environment within the retail centers in the suburban communities of Devon and Springfield as part community coffeehouse gathering spot, part public library and part traditional retail banking hub. There, customers can read hundreds of financial books or eReaders in comfy lounge chairs while sipping free coffee. Many log on to their personal computers to do research over free Wi-Fi networks, or use one of several tablets available at iPad stations. Another option is stopping by to attend weekly on-site workshops on topics like career planning, saving for college or social media marketing strategies for small businesses. …

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