OCBC Bank opens its largest integrated lifestyle and banking branch even as digital banking continues to pick up steam
Singapore, 25 November 2022 – OCBC Bank today officially opened its largest integrated lifestyle and banking branch in Wisma Atria mall, along Singapore’s main shopping belt Orchard Road. The new branch offers not only a full suite of banking services but also exciting retail and dining options in the same space. This is the Bank’s fourth branch with lifestyle elements to date but at 20,000 square feet and with six retail and food and beverage partners, the Wisma branch stands out in terms of size and ambition.
The new OCBC @ Wisma works with 6 retail and F&B partners, including a café and books retailer BookXcess.
Digital banking has become ubiquitous over the years, but consumers still prefer face-to-face advisory for complex banking needs like home loans and high-value wealth needs, carried out in the safe environment of bank branches. The Wisma branch embodies the Bank’s vision of creating a space that can spark conversations, which can in turn deepen the relationship the Bank has with its customers.
The 4th edition of the OCBC Financial Wellness Index found that those who sought professional financial advice had a higher investment index score of 62, compared to those who did not (51). This underscores the need to create a physical space for such advisory conversations to happen, in a fun yet safe environment like a bank branch.
To help create such an environment, OCBC Bank hired its first lifestyle experience store manager, who has spent 25 years in retail including with large brands like Ikea and Decathlon, to oversee the customer experience in the branch.
A third of the branch’s square footage is dedicated to retail areas with a mix meant to provoke conversations, from getting a book recommendation to asking about the intent behind the work of an artist that is on display. Brands such as SCENE SHANG, BookXcess and Crane Living feature homeware, books and other lifestyle products. There is also an art gallery with regular exhibitions curated by Art Porters, a café, a 10-seater omakase restaurant, as well as an event space to host financial wellness talks, workshops and other activities, many of which are open to members of the public.
This unique and first-of-its-kind, highly experiential banking environment has reaped results since the branch’s soft opening in August this year. The branch staff have been engaging curious visitors in interesting conversations, with chats about the products or the bank concept. On average, monthly applications for credit cards at Wisma have been 5 times more than that of an average branch. The value of its monthly personal loans disbursed is also 1.5 times more than that of an average branch. The monthly wealth income from the Wisma branch is also 30% higher than the monthly wealth income from the former orchardgateway branch, which was also located in the Orchard area but did not have lifestyle elements.
Facilitating complex and high-value transactions
Even though most banking transactions can be done digitally, the branch remains the preferred port of call for those making decisions pertaining to wealth management – especially higher-value transactions. Last year, the average value of a unit trust investment done at a branch was 10 times more than a unit trust investment done digitally. The Wisma branch has been designed to meet this need. Flanking the retail space at each side are pods and rooms to facilitate intimate and private discussions with customers. Other banking needs, like some mortgage requests, can be complex and customers often request the guidance of a mortgage specialist in-person. These examples indicate that customers value the advice of trusted financial advisors given in face-to-face settings.
Flanking the retail section in the Wisma branch are private rooms and pods for customers to have important and intimate conversations about financial planning and wealth management.
While the Bank’s branch network has been right-sized for optimal efficiencies over the years, specially designed branches like Wisma will continue to be built where the need or opportunity arises. The Wisma branch, with its prime Orchard Road location favoured by overseas visitors, also encapsulates the Bank’s strategy to capture the rising wealth flows in Asia through its twin hubs of Singapore and Hong Kong. The region is home to more than one-fifth of the world’s population of high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals, as well as a burgeoning middle-class. About 20 per cent of the Wisma branch’s walk-in customers are non- Singaporean.
Said Mr Sunny Quek, Head of Global Consumer Financial Services at OCBC Bank: “Even as we bolster our digital capabilities, branches remain an important touchpoint for many customers. When it comes to complex and deeper financial advisory conversations, they still prefer the intimacy, clarity and trust that face-to-face conversations with a qualified financial consultant provide. In fact, we expect footfall to increase in a branch like Wisma, because we give customers more reasons to come.”
Mr Quek added: “While the physical branch evolves, it should not be seen as an independent touchpoint siloed from the rest like our OCBC Digital app, or ATMs. We continue to pour resources into data analytics and management to ensure seamlessness across all our channels, with the goal that any customer can use the various touchpoints interchangeably without having to repeat their requests or needs. As far as the customer is concerned, they do not need to worry about whether they are going to the branch or the app – they only deal with one channel, the Bank.”
OCBC Bank’s branch network has continuously transformed over the years. From the night safe system introduced in 1948 that let customers deposit cash and valuables after dark, to the availability of full-service Sunday Banking in 2006 to give customers a more conducive time to review financial plans for the family, to the start of experience-led branches when the OCBC Premier Centre at the Upper Thomson branch rolled out an open- concept kitchen in 2007, the Bank is continually innovating and improving upon the branch experience for its customers. This year, the bank refreshed three branches with the lifestyle concept – Ang Mo Kio Central, Jurong Point and Tampines.