Monday, July 22, 2013

Bank of America opens 'flagship' branch in Boston

Bank of America on Monday opened a "flagship" branch in Boston, the third for the Charlotte-based bank, which could end up with as many as 15 of the high-tech locations.

The flagship branches, larger than traditional Bank of America locations, are touted as coming equipped with the latest technology, such as the bank's new Teller Assist automated teller machines. They also feature space for customers to meet with Bank of America "specialists" -- financial solutions advisers, small-business bankers and mortgage loan officers.

In Boston's Back Bay neighborhood, the flagship branch is in addition to one in Charlotte at the bank's 100 N. Tryon St. headquarters and one in Livonia, Mich. Other flagship branches are expected to open in coming years.

Bank of America is putting the flagship branches in "top markets," spokesman T.J. Crawford said Monday. The flagship branch in Charlotte was the first to open, he said.

Noteworthy about the flagship branches are the laptop stations for customers and the bank employees that use tablet computers. The flagship branches also have the Teller Assist ATMs, which were unveiled this year and have a video screen that allows a customer to interact with a teller in real time -- and after normal banking hours.

At least one of the Teller Assist ATMs is coming to the Charlotte flagship branch, at Founders Hall, this year, the bank has said. Bank officials have not said when, though.

The Boston branch is decorated with art from Bank of America's own collection, Crawford said. Charlotte's flagship branch has a collection of antique mechanical banks, he said.

In Boston, he said, said two Bank of America branches, within blocks of each other, were consolidated into the flagship site. No jobs were lost as a result, he said.

Bank of America has been shuttering branches as it tries to cut costs. It plans to reduce the number to about 5,000 by the end of next year. But, like other banks, it says there's still demand for its "banking centers," Bank of America's term for branches.

"That's why we're focused within those banking centers on making our expertise more accessible in person through these specialists," Crawford said.

He said Bank of America has roughly 6,800 specialists in approximately 2,000 branches across the U.S.

(For a Boston Globe story on the Boston flagship branch, click here.)