Bank of America introduces changes in bank branches

Bank of America is preparing to test some new changes in its branches, letting customers videoconference with financial advisers and moving other advisers directly into the branches to make them more accessible.

In January, the bank will convert about a dozen branches in the Washington, D.C., area and Los Angeles into so-called “specialty stores,” and plans to eventually open more around the country, including in Charlotte. The stores will have advisers, or “specialists,” who can offer advice on mortgages, investments and small business, either on site or available via video chat. That’s a change from the current branches, where such specialized advice is more typically a “referral and follow-up” process, said Helen Eggers, the bank’s customer segments executive.

“We’ve been acknowledging the changing customer environment,” Eggers said. “There’s a very explicit request for us to be able to deliver expertise when and where and how the customer wants to receive it.”

Bank officials say the stores will help them finally leverage the capabilities of mortgage giant Countrywide Financial Corp., which the bank bought in 2008, and investment bank Merrill Lynch, which it bought in 2009. Though those purchases have brought challenges, they’ve also catapulted Bank of America into top positions in mortgages and investment banking.

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