Bank of America says it’s planning to open its first new branch in the Charlotte metro area in four years.
A sign announcing the pending arrival of the South End branch stands on the site at the intersection of South Boulevard and Iverson Way. The Charlotte-based bank said it is building the branch to replace another one half a mile away in Sedgefield Shopping Center, which is being redeveloped into a mixed-use center.
Since the financial crisis, Bank of America has slashed more than 1,400 branches nationwide, including some in Charlotte. Those reductions have come as CEO Brian Moynihan pushes to lower the bank’s overall costs, as well as adjust to customers abandoning branches as they conduct more transactions on mobile devices.
Bank of America’s last new branch in Charlotte opened at its uptown headquarters in 2012.
The new branch in fast-booming South End is expected to open toward the end of the year.
The bank says the location will reflect the new approach it’s taking to new and renovated branches. Under that strategy, branches are being geared less toward conducting transactions and more toward providing consumers with products and financial advice.
“That’s going to be advice on how to save for their retirement, their kids’ education, advice on how to buy a home or an auto or advice on how to start or grow a business,” Dean Athanasia, co-head of consumer banking, told the bank’s shareholders during a gathering in Charlotte last month.
Athanasia said the bank is renovating more than 1,500 U.S. branches and plans to open about 250 in the coming years.
Those branches will be staffed with Merrill Lynch employees and others who will handle all eight lines of Bank of America’s businesses. Among the changes from branches of the past: Tellers will be tucked toward the back of the buildings.
“We call them client service areas now,” Athanasia said.
“But that is not the feature of the (branches),” he said. “Advice is the feature.”