Sleek, modern, and compact, National Bank’s recently relocated New Sudbury branch looks more like an Apple Store than a bank.
The new location — taking up a portion of the old Sears storefront on the North side of the New Sudbury Shopping Centre — opened its doors back in November, but was forced to delay its official opening due to a resurgence of COVID-19 restrictions late in the fall as the Omicron variant spread.
On May 13, with the mayor in attendance and armed with a display of cupcakes and branded swag, the New Sudbury branch officially cut the ribbon on its innovative, client-centric new location.
National Bank’s “new client experience” is an approach to banking the company has been steadily implementing across its branches in the last few years. The strategy’s focus is on providing one-on-one mentorship and advice to clients to help them adapt to the modern world of online banking, according to regional vice-president Stephane Duguay.
“It’s really based on your need,” he said. “We’ll help you tremendously from the onset and focus on the advice and focus on financial literacy to really increase people’s abilities from a banking perspective, whether that be digital banking so that you’re able to do things in the comfort of your own home for the simple stuff, or come in for the advice piece.”
The New Sudbury branch does away with the long teller counter of old and replaces it with a large central table, where staff sit down with clients and use tablets to walk them through their transactions, as well as mobile and online banking.
“This is why you come in and you’re at the collaboration space, versus in front of either an ATM or someone pointing you a million directions,” said Duguay.
“The clients really appreciate it,” said branch manager Denis Cyr, addding pandemic restrictions on bank hours highlighted the need for an education-first model to help clients navigate banking from home.
Still, he said, the concept hasn’t quite clicked yet for all their clients, who still sometimes turn to the new tucked away teller counter even when greeted at the door.
“It’s a new branch experience, which they’re not accustomed to,” said Cyr. “We’re taking them in a different way. We sit down to do their banking with them. It’s really what they were requiring.”
Still, the teller and ATM are still available to anyone who may prefer them.
National Bank has operated in the Sudbury market since 1917. Talks of vacating its previous downtown location, which they’ve occupied since the 1970s, have been ongoing for nearly a decade, during which time the company was developing its new client experience plan.
The New Sudbury location, while 1,000 square feet smaller, is more efficient and better adapted to their needs, according to Cyr, not to mention the abundance of parking. The relocation has also allowed it to reach an entirely new client base.
“We’ve had a bit of a boom,” Cyr said. “Since November, we’ve had more new account openings than in the last two or three years combined.”
Mayor Brian Bigger, who cut the ribbon on the new location, praised the company for its long commitment to the city and its investment in the New Sudbury region.
“It’s so exciting to open up new branches,” Bigger said. “What I’m seeing is a number of businesses transitioning over to that more personalized service. You’re on the leading edge of that. It’s all about the people and your knowledge and the advice that you can provide for your customers”
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Mia Jensen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star