PNC’s Retail Banking and Community Development Banking teams are actively using mobile branches as community outreach tools to extend essential banking services into low- and moderate-income communities and strengthen relationships with unbanked or underbanked members of these communities.
For more than 15 years, PNC Bank has maintained a fleet of mobile units to help customers when they need in-person banking services most – during outdoor festivals and events, college move-in days and, especially, branch closures due to renovations or natural disasters.
PNC currently has three 40-foot units that have an ATM in addition to the teller services offered on the other eight smaller mobile branches.
More Than Traditional Banking
“Our mobile branches provide community members the opportunity to meet with a personal banker, open a checking account, apply for a home equity loan, replace a PNC debit card and a number of other traditional banking services,” says Chris Hill, senior vice president and mobile branch channel manager for Retail Banking. “But we decided we wanted to go beyond that and provide more convenient access to important banking services in the communities we serve. We also wanted to leverage our mobile branches to provide consumers with financial education.”
PNC deployed one of its 40-foot units to Chicago in September 2020 and teamed up with 17 community organizations and centers to set a monthly route with repeating stops scheduled in multiple neighborhoods. In doing so, the mobile branch outreach program has aligned with PNC’s recently announced $88 billion commitment to make its products and services more accessible to diverse and low- and moderate-income communities.1
Helping to Achieve Goals
PNC’s mobile branches not only offer financial education seminars for consumers, small businesses and nonprofit organizations, they also provide educational programs for homebuyers and money management in an effort to improve the financial stability of people and families who may not otherwise have convenient access to banking services, rely on high-fee check-cashing and payday loans or who don’t have checking accounts at all.
“We want to help unbanked or underbanked residents who are in traditionally underserved communities take steps toward their financial goals, and we are able to respond with opportunities for economic empowerment and lifelong learning through this more personalized mobile-branch approach,” says Cathy Niederberger, senior vice president and director of Community Development Banking at PNC. “Our ability to offer financial education enables individuals of all ages to learn ways to make confident financial decisions so that they can achieve their goals.”
A Commitment to the Community
Linda Peters, director of older adult programs for Northwest Side Housing Center (NWSHC), says PNC’s relationship-building approach to the community has been invaluable to older adult residents at the center, especially during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
PNC’s mobile branch visits the Kelvyn Park Senior Center, which is operated by NWSHC, twice each month.
“We help families keep their homes, create financial opportunities and help people grow as organizers and leaders in the community,” Peters says. “Since PNC began its stops at the center, residents have been getting mortgage advice, and I’ve heard older adults say it’s been great having their bank come to them instead of having to ride the bus in a pandemic for their needs.”
NWSHC is among the 17 community partners that have been working with PNC since last fall. The community-based nonprofit, located in Chicago’s Belmont Cragin neighborhood, helps people build and improve their quality of life and economic well-being.
“It’s vital that we create communities in which people want to live, work, invest, play and learn,” says Tony Smith, senior vice president and community development banking manager for Illinois and Wisconsin. “We have to continue to do that. I think it's among the many things that makes PNC a stand-out player in a market like Chicago.”
The native Chicagoan recently had the opportunity to work on a PNC-financed development responsible for bringing a supermarket focused on healthy, local and organic foods along with several dine-in eateries to the underserved neighborhood, where he grew up.
Building Relationships, Speaking the Language
Smith says PNC being a part of the community that it serves is not only gratifying, but it is key to understanding the needs and building relationships.
NWSHC’s Belmont Cragin neighborhood has an 82% Latino population with the same percentage of residents who speak a language other than English at home. 2
Spanish-speaking bankers are available in many of the mobile branches to help residents, and PNC keeps certain materials translated in Spanish on hand. On-site assistance may also be available in Polish in certain locations, since Chicago is home to the largest Polish population outside of Poland.3
“The bilingual bankers are both a nice and necessary touch that allow our residents to talk with someone familiar with their language and culture. That’s a big plus,” Peters adds. “PNC has built the kind of relationships with our customers that are not just transactional.”
Detroit will be the next stop for PNC’s mobile branch experience after community partners in the city expressed interest in the program.
“Embedded within the PNC culture is an authentic commitment to our communities – especially communities of color, seniors, veterans, people with disabilities and those with lesser means,” Smith says. “That makes it extraordinarily rewarding to do this kind of work at PNC.”