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Boomers join Gen Y, ditch branches

By Claes Bell, CFA · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Posted: 6 pm ET

Odds are if you self-identify as a member of Generation X or Generation Y, also known as a millennial, you're not a fan of banking in person at a branch.

A recent study by Market Rates Insight found that just 24 percent of millennials and 25 percent of Gen Xers like to do their banking in a branch.

What's surprising is that so many of their baby boomer and senior counterparts seem to agree. Just 31 percent of baby boomers and 38 percent of those 67 and older say branches are their preferred way to bank.

Likewise, there's a remarkable amount of unanimity about the awesomeness of online banking, with 69 percent of millennials and 68 percent of Gen-Xers saying they like to bank online, along with 65 percent of baby boomers and 61 percent of senior respondents.

When it comes to mobile banking, the technology isn't very popular among any age group yet, but there is somewhat of a generational divide there. Three times as many millennials (6 percent) prefer banking on their smartphones and tablets compared to boomers (2 percent). Perhaps unsurprisingly, a resounding zero percent of seniors prefer mobile banking.

If you like banking online, this is great! You can be sure bank executives have similar numbers in front of them and will be working to make sure their websites are as powerful and user-friendly as possible. But if you're a branch lover (or a teller), these numbers have to be distressing.

While many of the people who prefer online banking probably still like to have a branch nearby to deal with bank questions more complicated than run-of-the-mill checking account management, banks are going to continue the process of winnowing their branch networks down that picked up speed last year.

What do you think? How do you like to bank? Are branches headed for extinction?

Follow me on Twitter: @ClaesBell.

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