United Commercial Realty
USAA opens its first stand-alone financial center9.17.2009- William Pack - San Antonio Express News
USAA, a financial services company built on telephone and Internet communications with customers, reached out in a more physical way Wednesday.
The company opened its first full-service office outside of its San Antonio headquarters in the Alamo Ranch Marketplace Shopping Center on Loop 1604 near Culebra Road.
It's considered a pilot program designed to measure how much USAA customers want to talk directly to a service representative about financial products.
But company spokesman Paul Berry said three more independent centers are in the planning stage, including another in San Antonio, and more could follow.
“It's another way for our members to access USAA and get the world-class service they're used to,” Berry said.
The company announced plans to test the stand-alone financial centers in May.
Berry said although USAA believes the majority of its 7.2 million customers are comfortable working with it by phone or online, some members may want to talk to service representatives in person. The financial centers offer that.
The first center, open Mondays through Saturdays, will have six service representatives to enroll new members and discuss the company's insurance and banking products.
They won't take deposits or handle money for customers, but ATMs at the site can provide that assistance. If members need specialized advice about their investments or other financial products, they can contact USAA officials through one of the four videophones at the center, Berry said.
One wealth manager will be assigned to the center and will be available by appointment.
James Bexley, who holds the Smith Hutson Chair of Banking at Sam Houston State University, said people “like to go eyeball to eyeball” in discussions concerning their money.
He said the pilot project probably wouldn't work if it forced too many customers to depend on videophones and other technology for assistance.
Berry said USAA is planning to open a second financial center near Loop 1604 and Interstate 35 North in the second quarter next year. Additional centers will be built in Killeen and in Southern California.