Bank of America is planning to have virtual reality headsets in all 4,300 financial centers next year.
Bank of America Corp. is implementing virtual reality to help train its branch employees.
Charlotte-based BofA is planning to have virtual reality headsets in all 4,300 financial centers next year, said John Jordan, head of The Academy at the bank.
The headsets are starting with five training modules this year and adding another 15 by the end of 2022, with modules focusing on client interactions.
Those interactions could involve relationship building, tough questions, high-emotion situations or needs they don't see every day.
Employees put on the headset, and it looks as if they are in the room with the client. The simulations can help employees to develop empathy skills or coach a colleague. Having the experience incorporate emotions is a way to make the training more memorable
"The intent is that the bank will be able to use it throughout the employee life cycle, so if someone wants to pick up a new skill or if someone has stubbed their toe a few times in a conversation and they want to practice doing it before they have another one. All of it is intended to make people feel more comfortable in their job."
So far, BofA has distributed about 50 VR headsets to 50 branches, with that number expected to rise to 1,000 next month.
Charlotte branches will receive headsets in early 2022, a BofA spokesperson confirmed. This market already participated in the pilot that included 400 employees.
This technology could be applicable in all lines of business, with opportunities to practice general presentation skills or eye contact, as examples. It could also be used for group training as others watch another screen to see what the headset user sees.
The bank said it is the first in the financial services industry to launch this type of VR training.
"The Academy organization is really built around specialized learning and development opportunities, and we really try to tailor those to the unique needs of the employees across a lot of different roles.
BofA has spent the past few years investing in new ways of training. It has simulators for the bank's technology, call libraries with real-life situations recorded and the artificial intelligence-driven iCoach to practice conversations. The new VR training is expected to eventually reach 50,000 employees.
BofA also declined to share a cost of investment. The bank's annual technology budget is at about $14 billion. That includes approximately $3.4 billion for new development, an increase compared to years past.
Virtual Reality training will surely upend the traditional training industry.