Big Changes to Big Apple Branches
Schwab’s more than 300 branches across the country play a critical role in helping engage with clients to identify, work towards, and ultimately reach their financial goals. In many ways, Schwab’s branch managers and financial consultants are the face of what we try to do everyday - provide investors with meaningful investing help that is grounded in their specific situation and goals.
With that in mind, I’m particularly excited about two new flagship branches that opened in New York this fall – one located at Grand Central and a second Midtown branch. (You’ll find more details about these branches in a press release we recently issued.)
I sat down with Grand Central Branch Manager Doug Zarookian and Midtown Branch Manager Keith Huber to hear what they have to say about some of the exciting upgrades we’ve made to our New York branches, and to get their insight on how our clients are feeling these days.
We hear a lot about people increasingly using their mobile devices for investing and banking, so it may seem odd that we’re focusing our resources on improving physical branch locations – can you make sense of that for folks?
Doug: Sure. There’s no doubt that mobile access has grown in popularity, and Schwab has focused a ton of resources in our mobile capabilities this year for that reason. But we know that many people still value face-to-face interactions, especially when it comes to highly personal, in-depth conversations about planning for the future.
Keith: Agreed. In fact, last year more than a third of all new accounts we opened at Schwab happened because of someone coming into a branch to see us. And especially when someone is in the final stages of deciding which firm to use, there’s a significant appetite for in-person interactions.
What are some of the most common reasons people visit your branches?
Keith: There are definitely those people who come in for everyday transactions and they really like knowing we’re here for them. But we’re also seeing more clients coming in to talk about investing help and guidance, on things that are happening in their lives that impact their investing plan, or to educate themselves on specific things like managing debt or retirement planning.
Doug: Keith makes a great point about the nature of the conversations happening these days with clients in the branches. First, largely because of ongoing market volatility, the discussions we’re having with clients are getting longer and more detailed and focusing on things like stock market volatility and the economy, what they mean for people’s long-term plans, and whether they should be making any changes given their goals.
Second, we are really seeing an uptick in people interested in learning. We’re very proud of the free investing workshops we have in our branches, which are open to both clients and non-clients. We’ll hold around 250 of these on 50 different topics between now and the end of the year in New York branches and close to 10,000 total in branches across the country over the course of 2011.
What are some of the features of the new flagship branches in New York City?
Doug: In addition to the branches being much bigger, many of the features are pretty simple but can be important for folks who like to “stay connected.” Both the Midtown Branch and Grand Central branches offer complimentary Wi-Fi in their lobbies, and have web terminals where clients can access all kinds of information and tools, from their accounts and research to some fun quizzes that test knowledge. Both branches will also feature iPads® for visitors to access and these will be loaded up with great content and tools to help people learn about investing.
Keith: It’s also worth noting that both branches have huge meeting areas – 1,150 square feet in Grand Central and 1,480 square feet in the Midtown Branch – so even more people can attend the workshops Doug mentioned.
Thanks to Doug and Keith for taking the time to talk. If you have any questions of your own, please let us know!
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