By changing one simple word, Wells Fargo has turned its back on decades of company messaging — and the move alone may have ripple effects across the industry.
The move may have put a number of smaller peers in a tight spot: regional lenders such as Umpqua and TD Bank also use the term “stores” regularly, and may soon find it taboo.
Some observers dismissed the change as mere window-dressing by a company in crisis. Others called Wells’ decision rash, arguing that ditching the term risks undercutting the company’s broader approach to retail branching, which was until recently considered one of its key strengths.[…] While they may not disappear, as some fintechs gleefully predict, branches could evolve into something more like showrooms.
“Productivity has been falling, and it’s been falling everywhere,” said Kevin Travis, an executive vice president at the consulting firm Novantas. That is true whether it’s measured in sales per branch or sales per full-time employee, he said.
No matter how you cut it, dropping the term “stores” is an extraordinary shift for Wells.[…] The term was widely adopted in the industry roughly two decades ago, when ATMs began to replace many of the transactional services originally offered by branches, according to Novantas’ Travis. The industry underwent a “cultural shift” at the time, viewing their retail locations as places where products could be sold, he said.
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