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1st Mariner's new branch in Timonium will have offer conference room space for small businesses (Rendering submitted by Arium AE)

With a ‘technology bar,’ this 1st Mariner branch aims to be different

The function of a bank is simple. It’s a place where one goes to make financial transactions. But the new 1st Mariner Bank branch in Timonium is trying to do a little bit more. With its new 3,300 square-foot facility, the community bank is creating a space that will incorporate mobile banking and provide meeting spaces for small businesses.

“Looking at bank branches moving forward, they’re going to look different,” said Wade Barnes, 1st Mariner’s senior vice president and director of retail banking.

The idea for a new look came about while the bank was in search of a new location after its Cockeysville lease was expiring. Their search led them to a building on York Road in Timonium.

“We just thought this location is so superior,” said Barnes. Typically, a 1,500- to 2,000-square-foot space is sufficient for a basic branch, he said, so the bank started coming up with ways to utilize the extra space.

Recognizing that many of the its clients are small-business owners, contractors in particular, the bank decided to create room for those clients to check emails, print documents and use conference room space, free of charge. The facilities will be open to the public, even people who are not 1st Mariner customers, said Barnes.

Those new services are also expected to add foot traffic to the branch. Banks as an industry have seen a decrease in foot traffic as more people make financial transactions online.

“That trend is across the industry, and we’re certainly seeing our fair share of it,” said Barnes.

But this branch will feed into that trend by having what the bank calls “a technology bar.” It will be equipped with iPads and Android tablets, touch screens that offer personalized services such as the best account options and loans and which allow users to schedule meetings with a financial adviser. That space will also be used to hold financial seminars and provide interactive demos on a range of topics, including advice for first-time homebuyers and basic credit courses.

Barnes described the new branch as a way for the bank to strike “a balance of bringing technology without losing the human aspect.”

The new branch, which will become the 1st Mariner’s “hub,” will have six full-time employees, six offices and work space for private, mortgage and commercial bankers.

The Cockeysville branch, which will permanently close at the end of the business day on Nov. 20, was 3,200 square-feet but a lot of that was closed off to the public, said Barnes.

“This space is fully open to the public.”