For the week beginning April 26, 2004
"Online Traders Anticipate New Era." Online trading companies could be ushering in a new era of growth. Trading volumes for the leading seven online brokerage companies -- E*Trade, Charles Schwab, Ameritrade, TD Waterhouse, Fidelity, Scottrade and Harris Direct -- improved 40 percent from the same period a year earlier. Recently, online brokerages have rolled out an array of services meant not just to serve active traders, but also to attract average traders to more complex financial instruments. NYTIMES.COM, April 19, 2004, pp. 1-3.
"Where The Money Is: The Web Was Supposed To Kill Bank Branches. Instead, Banks Are Spending Billions On Them As A Cornerstone Of Customer Service." Banks have learned that branches are a vital distribution channel. Bankers must now focus on the right technology and information to make sure brick and mortar equals sales and profits. INFORMATIONWEEK.COM, April 12, 2004, pp. 1-5.
"Have A Nice Day." According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, customer satisfaction with financial services firms is up 1.2 percent. US BANKER, April 2004, p. 14.
"Should A Bank Be A Store?" In the hunt for a new brand identity, bank branches are beginning to incorporate design concepts adopted directly from retail models like clothing stores and car dealerships. US BANKER, April 2004, pp. 36-38, 40.
"Run For The Money -- Financial Marketers Devote More Dollars To Savvy Shoppers." "Financial services marketers are again spending more, and they're spending it in new ways to catch the eye of better-informed and marketing-saturated consumers." Included is a chart which compares financial firms spending on advertising, 2003 vs. 2002. MARKETING NEWS, April 15, 2004, pp. 13-14.
"Modify Surveys To Find 'Whys.'" Customer satisfaction experts feel that companies should better customize their customer surveys. Here are some ways companies can improve their surveys. MARKETING NEWS, April 15, 2004, p. 17.
For the week beginning April 19, 2004
"Goin' Phishing: Growing E-Mail Attacks Threaten Banks' Bottom Lines." Phishing is the distribution of spoofed e-mail messages with return addresses, links and branding art that make the e-mails appear to come from banks, insurers, payment firms, retailers or credit card companies. Analysts estimate that up to 5 percent of e-mail requests actually succeed in obtaining a client's financial data, though it's unclear how much of that data is ever used fraudulently. Will phishing predators dampen the growth of online banking or e-commerce? BANK TECHNOLOGY NEWS, April 2004, pp. 34-35.
"Creating A Successful Consumer-Direct Campaign." There are three key steps to consumer-direct marketing. First, select a target market, then determine your best strategies, and finally, create a system that will educate and inspire your target market to stay and work with you. MORTGAGE ORIGINATOR, March 2004, pp. 18-20, 23-25.
"How To Move Customers Out Of Branches." Banking customers increasingly expect multiple channels and 24/7 access at no additional cost. Banks need to evaluate the functionality of various channels, as well as their customers' receptivity to them. How should a bank create an optimal multichannel sales/service mix? AMERICAN BANKER, April 13, 2004, p. 15A.
"Marketing Guru Stephen Cone Says Bank Advertising Badly Needs A Dose Of Excitement." Cone says bank advertising has been bland in the past. He says "brand advertising is always worthwhile because you're always competing with other institutions in local markets. Regardless of whether the brand you're marketing is going to be there forever, you still have to differentiate yourself from the local competition." BAI.ORG, April 12, 2004, pp. 1-5.
"How To Get It Right: In Marketing Yourself, Make Sure You Stay Client-Focused." Advisor brochures and Web sites are sometimes filled with marketing copy that focuses on the advisors. Instead of being self-centered, the focus should be on the prospective client and about the benefits that clients get from financial planning and professional investment advice. INVESTMENT ADVISOR, March 2004, p. 42.
"Finding The HNW." Wealthy individuals are often involved in local charitable or service organizations. You can get involved in these organizations as well, and can give back to your own community. Such organizations should attract wealthy individuals, provide opportunities to meet and greet, should have high visibility, and provide a positive impression. INVESTMENT ADVISOR, March 2004, pp. 78-79.
"Keep Those New Clients Coming." Do you rely on passive referrals for many new clients? If you are not spending time building a proactive marketing system to attract prospects, you could end up a casualty. INVESTMENT ADVISOR, April 2004, pp. 110-111.
"What Makes A Good Site? Opinions Vary." What makes a good credit card Web site? Some analysts put the highest emphasis on easy navigation, others on the breadth of options available for the more computer-savvy user. Capital One Financial Corp., for example, has one of the most widely viewed financial services Web sites and offers great customer service. Citigroup's Citi cards site sends cardholders alerts when payments are due and when statements become available. Morgan Stanley's Discover Financial Services is one of the only card sites that provides instant credit approval. AMERICAN BANKER, April 14, 2004, p. 6.
"ARMed And Dangerous?" Adjustable-rate mortgages are pulling in new home buyers, but the risks are high. Banks are devising more exotic ways for Americans to purchase their first homes or trade up to fancier ones. The trend is exploding as banks roll out everything from first mortgages for more than a home's value to interest-only loans that doesn't require any of the principal to be paid. BUSINESS WEEK, April 12, 2004, pp. 82-84.
"Banking On The Rich." A new study from Celent Communications details a negative trend in banks' recruitment of the ultrawealthy. The study suggests that the first step in turning this tide is for banks to improve investors' opinion of their ability to serve them. REGISTERED REP, April 2004, p. 19.
For the week beginning April 12, 2004
“'Living The Brand' Helps Banks Increase Insurance Sales.” The concept of living the brand is a marketing strategy that shifts focus away from traditional brand-strengthening programs based on sales promotion and other external media and toward strengthening employees' role in building a company's brand recognition. NATIONAL UNDERWRITER/LIFE & HEALTH, April 5, 2004, p. 31.
"Predicting Post-Merger Returns In The Banking Industry." Revenue generation, cost control and credit quality are the basic drivers of bank profitability. These drivers are used to explore bank merger activity during the last 20 years. CORPORATE FINANCE REVIEW, March/April 2004, pp. 12-20.
"Woods: Middle Market Must Be Served." David Woods, CEO of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, says the two main threats to the industry are the lower number of new recruits in the agency force, along with low retention, and the reduction in the number of people who own life insurance. Woods believes middle income clients would be willing to pay in order to work with a professional advisor. NATIONAL UNDERWRITER/LIFE & HEALTH, March 29, 2004, p. 10.
"The Variable Insurance Industry Is Feeling The Winds Of Change." Many variable annuities are being sold today with living benefit guarantees. Those features are popular with consumers, but the issuing companies are under pressure to implement risk management -- including hedging programs, if they have no reinsurance -- to ensure they can support those guarantees. NATIONAL UNDERWRITER/LIFE & HEALTH, March 29, 2004, p. 12.
"Cashing In On Wealth Management." For many banks and their reps, wealth management is an evolving business strategy. Everyone is chasing wealth management -- large banks, brokers, insurance companies and community banks. BANK INVESTMENT CONSULTANT, March 2004, pp. 26-30.
"Socially Responsible Funds: All Show, No Go?" Consumers who want to plunk down their cash in a socially aware fund must seek out a broker or go directly to the fund itself. Is this a missed opportunity for banks? Socially minded investors have not had good luck with banks. US BANKER, March 2004, p. 28.
"Dining By Inches, Appetite For Pounds." Banks have yet to gain much traction in pushing investment services. They've improved marketing efforts and revamped their business, but most customers don't think of their bank as a good place to handle investment needs. US BANKER, March 2004, p. 55.
For the week beginning April 5, 2004
"Banks Need To Offer More Services." A survey revealed that 64% of respondents didn't feel that their bank satisfied all of their financial needs. USA TODAY, March 30, 2004, p. 1B.
"Branch Makeovers: Banks Are Turning Their Eyes Toward New Marketing Trends." Bank branches across the U.S. are upgrading their technology and introducing new layouts in order to increase product cross-selling. Banks are improving teller efficiency and investing in technology to reduce paperwork on items like loan applications and checks. THE DENVER BUSINESS JOURNAL, March 26, 2004, pp. 1-3.
"New Savings Initiatives Challenge Banks." Banks will soon be facing a host of new challenges regarding savings options for their customers. This article provides an overview of existing and proposed savings options and the opportunities that are available to financial institutions of all sizes. ABA TRUST & INVESTMENTS, March/April 2004, pp. 32-36.
"Stretch Your Budget Dollars." Bank marketing may be bouncing back. This article offers an overview of four strategies: partnering, co-locating, co-branding and sponsorships. ABA BANK MARKETING, March 2004, pp. 20-26.
"Study Financed By Insurers Calls For Federal Regulation." A study being released by researchers at the University of Massachusetts advocates a strong federal role in insurance regulation. Presently, state regulation is regarded as inefficient, costly and a drag on the competitiveness of insurers as they compete with banks and mutual fund companies for customers. This study focuses on life insurance. NYTIMES.COM, March 29, 2004, pp. 1-2.
"Variable Policy Guarantees Are Naturals For Some Boomer Income Plans." Do the newer guarantee features in variable annuity and variable universal life insurance products have a place in income planning for baby boomers? NATIONAL UNDERWRITER/LIFE & HEALTH, March 22, 2004, p. 23.
"Bills To Create Lifetime Accounts." Sen. Craig Thomas (R-Wyoming) and Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) will introduce bills incorporating a Bush administration initiative recommending the creation of so-called lifetime savings accounts Americans could use to save up to $5,000 a year. The lawmakers hope these new tax-advantaged savings products will be sold by banks. AMERICAN BANKER, March 31, 2004, p. 18.
For the week beginning March 29, 2004
"Asian-American Banks Profiting By Helping Immigrants Prosper." Bankers expect swelling Asian immigration to continue to drive growth the next 10 years. INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY, March 22, 2004, pp. A1, A8.
"Is Smaller Better?" According to a recent study by J.D. Power & Associates, regional firms, through more "proactive contact in managing customer accounts," receive higher satisfaction ratings than some of the major national brokerage houses. The top five included: Legg Mason Wood Walker, Raymond James, Edward Jones, A.G. Edwards, American Express and UBS Financial Services. Of the national wirehouses, only UBS Financial Services, Smith Barney and Morgan Stanley scored above the industry average. REGISTEREDREP.COM, March 5, 2004, pp. 1-2.
"To Maximize The Relationship, Consider Customer's Family." This article discusses the following benefits of an intergenerational marketing strategy: increased revenue opportunities without significant additional expenditures; lowered cost of acquiring customers; and reduced customer attrition. For example, a trigger campaign can be set up so that when a child of a trust officer's best client reaches a certain age, the mortgage group sends an offer to help with the first home purchase. AMERICAN BANKER, March 19, 2004, p. 10.
"What Marketers Should Know About Reaching Latinos." Reaching Latino audiences effectively requires an understanding of the target market. If you don't have that knowledge in-house, then you should find someone who does and rely on his or her counsel before moving forward with a campaign. One Latino group that is coveted by savvy marketers is Hispanic business owners, including women entrepreneurs. Hispanic women are the fastest-growing segment of women business owners. NATIONAL UNDERWRITER/LIFE & HEALTH, March 15, 2004, p. 37.
"Shelter From The Storm: Why More People In Their 40s Are Buying Nursing-Home Insurance." Sales of long-term care insurance have been surging recently by about 18% a year, with younger buyers leading the way. The average age of customers has plunged to about 58 years old. BARRON'S, March 22, 2004, pp. 41-42.
"Not-So-Fine Print." The Securities and Exchange Commission is rewriting the rules in mutual fund sales. Should you kiss 12b-1 income goodbye? REGISTERED REP, March 2004, pp. 16-17.
"The Great Divide." Over the last couple of years, the largest retail broker/dealers have been setting up wealth management groups -- private wealth boutiques, using brokers with enhanced credentials -- to go after the $10 million-plus crowd. But some rank-and-file advisers resent this concept. Are brokers working at lower levels diminished in this business model? REGISTERED REP, March 2004, pp. 28-30, 32.
"Will Your Ship Come In?" "Inheritances are not going to make a big splash in the finances of most boomers," says John Gist, associate director of AARP's Public Policy Institute." Older parents are living longer, spending more and treating themselves to luxuries. AARP BULLETIN, March 2004, pp. 24-25. And "Savers Vs. Spenders/The Difference Is Generational," which says older folks have a set of financial values that involve savings, frugality and living well within your means, while Boomers are the "me" generation and want to live for their own personal satisfaction, p. 24.