The Place That Time Forgot

Ever go into a bank branch?  I swear it is The Place That Time Forgot.  Every teller has their own way of organizing their stuff.  Transactions are still maddingly slow.  The branch manager is still in their own little office separated from what is going on.  I was in a bank branch today and, other than newer computers, it looks pretty much the same as I remember from when I was a kid in the late 1960s.

Think about other places you go and how they've changed:

  • The gas station allows you to pay at the pump, with either credit or debit.  Need a gallon of milk on the way home?  Chances are you can get it there.  True they generally don't have service bays anymore, but then new retail channels have emerged for that.
  • The grocery store makes it easier to figure out cost per item between competing products.  If you don't have many items, or are a do it yourself type person, you can use the self check-out lane.  The grocery store of today looks nothing like the tiny Farmer Jack (yes that was the name of a now defunct large Detroit chain) my mother shopped at when I was a kid.
  • My favorite car wash gives me the choice of getting a full service wash or an express wash where I don't have to get out of the car.  They also now offer a plan where you can get your car washed every day (and I have it!).  The comes out cleaner than in the past and they keep improving the service.

But not the bank branch.  Why in this day and age is the bank branch still stuck in the past.

I'm trying to figure out how this applies to CPAs in public practice.  I started in public accounting in 1984.  Everything was done by hand.  Tax returns were shipped out to a service bureau.  Everything took longer to get done.  Now my workpapers are electronic and tie into a trial balance; financial statements update instantly.  Turn around time is much quicker.  From my perspective, we deliver a much better experience to the customer/client.  I just worry if they see it too.

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Joel M. Ungar, CPA is a lifelong resident of the Detroit area and a graduate of The University of Michigan. He is a principal with Silberstein Ungar, PLLC, a Top 15 auditor of SEC public reporting companies. Joel writes observations on different matters and especially on working with and using LinkedIn. He thinks he has a sense of humor.

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