THE HUMAN TOUCH: Why Banks Are Giving Tellers Raises, Instead of Firing Them All.
When Goldman Sachs Group Inc. launched its digital consumer bank, it conducted a survey on customer attitudes. It turns out people want to find answers without assistance — until they can’t and immediately want help from a qualified banker. There’s high tolerance for self-service until it fails, and then there’s no tolerance. As banks across the country reassess branches, those findings keep getting validated.
It’s one reason why many bank tellers are getting raises this year. Conventional wisdom is that the job — held by almost a half-million Americans — is entering a sharp decline. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects banks will eliminate more than 40,000 positions in the decade through 2026. That would likely suppress teller wages, which hovered around a median $13.50 an hour last year.
Yet, in interviews and anecdotally, a more nuanced picture emerges. After banks received generous tax cuts in December, several of the nation’s largest — including Wells Fargo & Co., PNC Financial Services Group Inc. and Fifth Third Bancorp — said they’re raising their minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Branches and tellers aren’t going away entirely. Instead, as customers turn to mobile phones for routine financial services, tellers are being upgraded, taught to pitch loans, guide local entrepreneurs and offer technical support. The result is that at many lenders, a job widely seen as endangered by automation is starting to pay more.