Exclusive: Why Millennials and GenZers love going to the bank

Nov 20, 2019, 1:11 PM
bank millennials genz...
America's banks have rapidly shut down branches over the past decade to slash costs and adapt to a world in which deposits can be made on smartphones. Photo: Eric Thayer/Getty Images

(CNN) — Do Millennials still go to the bank? America’s banks have rapidly shut down branches over the past decade to slash costs and adapt to a world in which deposits can be made on smartphones.

The number of US bank branches has shrunk by more than 3,000 since 2010, according to Deloitte. Bank of America alone has slashed its branch count by more than 1,400. Not only does the shift away from physical branches save banks money, it makes sense given how much younger Americans rely on their smartphones for daily life.

Yet new research suggests banks should think twice before they shut down their next bank branch: Many customers, especially younger ones, still regularly rely on physical banks to make deposits, get paper money and even pay bills.

Seventy-two percent of GenZ consumers visit a physical bank branch at least monthly, the highest of any age group, according to a study of 1,000 consumers by Adobe Analytics shared exclusively with CNN Business. And 60% of Millennials say the same.

Surprisingly, older Americans were less likely to visit physical banks monthly, with GenX (50%), boomers (55%) and traditionalists (58%) saying they did so.

“The death of retail branches is greatly exaggerated,” Nate Smith, group manager at Adobe Analytics, told CNN Business. “That personal interaction is still very, very important today.”

Smith compared the findings with the realization that many shoppers still value brick-and-mortar stores for returns and trying on clothes.

Why are younger Americans going to bank branches? Forty-five percent of GenZ consumers said it was to make deposits, followed by paying bills (28%) and to get face-to-face customer service (25%). The Adobe research also said GenZ and Millennials are going to the bank to get documents notarized and to apply for mortgages and other loans.

The study found that all age groups agree that physical branches are an important part of the banking experience. Not surprisingly, that importance is most evident among older generations: 70% of GenX, 83% of boomers and 92% of traditionalists.

Still, two-thirds of GenZ consumers and 68% of Millennials said physical branches are an important part of the banking experience, according to Adobe.

“It’s important for banks not to overcorrect and not to forget that people like to interact face to face,” said Vivek Pandya, lead analyst at Adobe Digital Insights.

Banks shouldn’t ‘give up’ on branches

Customers especially prefer face-to-face interactions when opening new accounts.

A Deloitte survey released earlier this year found that bank branches are the preferred method among US consumers for applying for mortgages (65%), wealth management accounts (62%) and checking accounts (58%).

“Banks should not completely give up on branches yet,” Deloitte consultants wrote in the report. “Customers still prefer the human touch.”

Yet banks have substantially slimmed down their branch networks in recent years because of pressure to cut costs in a low-interest-rate environment and because of the popularity of mobile banking. The rise of payment platforms like Venmo and mobile check depositing has lessened the need to go to banks everyday.

Bank of America operated 4,302 branches across the United States as of the end the third quarter. That’s down from 5,700 at the end of 2011. And yet over that span the bank’s deposit base has grown 35% over that timeframe to nearly $1.4 trillion.

Wells Fargo’s branch count has dropped by 804, or 13%, since the end of 2012. That’s partially because a majority of Wells Fargo’s customer interactions now happen through its digital channels. Wells Fargo shut down 300 branches last year alone in addition to selling all 52 of its locations in three Midwestern states.

JPMorgan Chase is shifting in the other direction: Last year marked the first in nearly a decade that Chase extended its presence in several states by opening new Chase branches.

Many younger Americans don’t seem ready to embrace online-only banks. Less than half of GenZ (42%) and Millennials (49%) would consider online-only banks with no physical branches, Adobe found.

Chat bots and Amazon Alexa

Although banks have shut down countless branches, they are investing heavily in emerging technology to improve the customer experience. For example, banks have rolled out artificial-intelligence-assisted chat bots and voice skills apps on home speakers like Amazon Alexa that can answer questions, perform simple tasks and point customers in the right direction.

Those investments seem to be paying off, especially with younger customers.

Among those who have interacted with chatbots, the Adobe study found that two-thirds of GenZ and 53% of Millennials found the bot experience to be better than interacting with a human representative.

“There is a nefarious notion associated with AI and machine learning. We’re seeing that’s not the case,” said Adobe’s Smith.

However, customers still want to deal with a real person when it comes to complex issues.

When asked about customer service needs, just 21% of GenZ and 23% of Millennials prefer bots over humans.

™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

Nicole Schmidt, mother of Gabby Petito, wipes away a tear during a press conference for SB117, a bi...
SAM METZ, The Associated Press

Petito family lobbies for ‘lethality assessment’ law in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — When officers pulled over a van for speeding outside of Arches National Park in August 2021, they found a visibly distraught young couple in an emotional fight. Gabby Petito, 22, and her boyfriend Brian Laundrie, 23, were driving across the United States, and upon observing the couple, police officers in […]
7 hours ago
Utah State University researchers measure the temperature at minus 10 degrees in the Logan Canyon M...
Mark Jones

Monday morning’s cold temperatures nearly set new records

Cold temperatures Monday morning in northern Utah nearly set new records.
1 day ago
education legislation...
Mark Jones

One Utah lawmaker wants to ban cellphones in classrooms

One Utah lawmaker wants to ban cellphones in Utah classrooms.
1 day ago
Schools in the Cache County School District are on a 2-hour delayed start on Tuesday, Jan. 31, due ...
Devin Oldroyd

Freezing weather causes delayed start for Cache County School District schools

Schools in the Cache County School District are on a 2-hour delayed start on Tuesday, Jan. 31, due to weather conditions.
1 day ago
FILE - A doctor loads a dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, at ...
Aimee Cobabe

Bill banning vaccine passports heading to Utah Senate

A bill to ban vaccine passports is heading out of the Utah House and into the Utah Senate. The bill is similar to a failed bill from 2022.
1 day ago
A two-vehicle crash Monday morning on U.S. Highway 40 claimed the life of a 19-year-old man. Photo ...
Mark Jones

Crash in Uintah County claims the life of a 19-year-old man

UINTAH COUNTY, Utah — A 19-year-old man died Monday morning in a two-vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 40 in Uintah County. The Utah Highway Patrol says the crash occurred near milepost 137 at 7:11 a.m. The UHP says a 2017 Nissan Rouge was heading westbound. The 19-year-old victim was the driver of the Nissan Rouge. […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Exclusive: Why Millennials and GenZers love going to the bank