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PNC Bank could have 90 percent teller-less branches in five years

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PNC Financial Services Corp.'s president and CEO told a group of analysts Tuesday that within five years, PNC Bank plans to “remove tellers” at about two-thirds of its bank branches.

PNC CEO William Demchak told analysts at the Goldman Sachs Financial Services Conference the retail transformation for the banking industry is going to be a “massive change” and that about two-thirds of PNC’s 2,700 branches will be automated within the next five years.

That will “remove tellers so we have more automation. We’ll have more universal salespeople in a branch, have much smaller square footage, introduce technology. It’ll drop the operating costs,” Demchak said during the “fireside chat” he had with analysts at the conference. “And it’ll deliver a service that tomorrow’s bank client expects.”

PNC has made it a point to consolidate and close many of its 2,700 branches this year and next year. The plan is to close 200 branches in 2013.

About 10 percent of the remaining branches are the bank’s automated “universal branches,” Demchak said, but in five years, the plan is for the bank to have 90 percent of branches as universal branches.

In universal branches, a concierge desk, not a teller, greets usual branch bank customers, according to Fred Solomon, PNC Bank’s senior vice president for corporate communications. Those customers are then directed to financial consultants rather than tellers.

Solomon said PNC does not disclose how many people it has in a certain position and would not release the number of tellers PNC currently employs.

For the branches that have been shifted to the universal format, Solomon said not all tellers have been moved into the financial consultant position for “various reasons.”

“To the extent possible, those who have not transitioned have been reassigned to other branches,” Solomon said.

But because the teller is the “first step on the bank job ladder,” he expects in five years those tellers will have moved up.

“Which means the personnel impact from this change will be very minimal,” he said.

PNC is the eighth-largest bank in the country, according to listing service SNL Financial.

Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial Services Group Inc. trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol PNC. PNC Bank manages $304.4 billion in assets and $212.3 in deposits, according to SNL Financial.

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