Industry Research Planning

How do you find an architect? Well, to be honest, you can find an architect just about anywhere you look. There are over 20,000 architectural firms in the U.S. But which one do you choose?

There’s a big difference between choosing an architect and choosing the right architect for your industry. Excluding unforeseen circumstances, just about any firm should be able to bring your project to completion, but that’s not enough — especially within a competitive industry.

How to Find and Choose the Right Bank Architect in Four Steps

The architect you work with has a significant impact on your final product and what your experience will be over the course of your project. Choosing the right bank architect isn't always as simple as it may seem. Still, finding and choosing the right firm for your project doesn’t have to be a hassle. Just follow these four steps.

1. Ask Colleagues, Peers & Associations for Referrals

When you’re just getting started is a great time to get a little help from your friends. Tap into your industry connections to find who’s been working with who. Did one of your peers just remodel their branch? Ask which firm they worked with and whether or not they’d recommend them. Did you visit a branch with an impressive design? Find out who their architect was and add them to your list.

One of the best referrals is from your trade associations. Architects that attend, sponsor and support your association is probably an expert in bank design because they are invest in the industry and their knowledge of bank trends and research. 

Although referrals are a great way to build up a list of potential firms, this probably isn’t the time to ask individuals outside your industry for input. After all, financial architecture is a niche market, and it’s wise to work with an experienced bank architect.

2. Use Your Favorite Search Engine

After soliciting referrals from within your network you may come away with a full list, but odds are you’ll need to supplement with your own research. Searching online will allow you to widen your search and get beyond just local options. Find out if there are any financial architects on the local, state, and national level who you can consider. Having experience and expertise within your industry doesn’t have to be your number one priority, but we recommend having it somewhere near the top.

By putting the world wide web to good use, you won’t get stuck having to rely on only local results. And as we’ve covered before, when it comes to branch architecture, local isn’t always better. In my opinion, industry experience trumps locale.

3. Review Experience & Qualifications

With the importance of industry-specific expertise and experience, you’ll want to see some of the financial projects your prospective firms have under their belts. A firm that’s just beginning to build its resume in the financial sector may have only a handful of successful bank architecture projects, while a more experienced firm may have hundreds—even thousands—of financial projects in their portfolio.

Viewing what a firm has already done will provide good insights into what they can do for you. Remember, a generalist architect can design any building. A bank architect understands the unique nuances of banking operations and how to incorporate that into a branch. 

4. Ask for Customer Referrals

Wasn’t step number one a referral? Yes, it was! But I’m talking about a different type of referral here. Once you’ve reviewed an architect’s body of work and liked what you've seen, the next best step is to speak to a few of their previous customers. Get into contact with one of your ideal architects, let them know you’re interested, and ask for some customers you can reach out to.

When you connect with a previous customer, ask them specific questions about the architect's banking experience. Here are a few ideas:

  • Did they provide tours of banking facilities?
  • Did they teach you about banking trends?
  • Did they understand and recommend bank equipment?
  • Did they understand banking operations?
  • Did they support your trade association? 
  • Did they have a programming session specific to banking?
  • Did they lead you, or did you teach them?

While this is not an exhaustive list by any means, these questions should help you get on the right track. The answers they provide will give you greater insights to help decide whether or not you’d like to move forward with a particular firm. Ideally, they should help you avoid choosing an architect without banking experience.

Overall, following these steps will help you to choose an architecture firm that has the experience, expertise, and services that fit best with your needs. Good luck!

If you're considering us as an option (thank you!), connect with me below and I'd be happy to get you a list of customer referrals to get you started.

Talk to a Financial Architect

Published on July 30, 2019

Topics: New Construction, Tenant Improvement, Bank Design, Remodel, Bank Architecture, How to Start a Bank