Amcore Financial Inc. of Rockford, Ill., plans to introduce on-line brokerage services today.
Following in the footsteps of numerous other bank brokerages, Amcore Financial Group is to offer on-line securities trading, research, and stock quotes.
Alan W. Kennebeck, the president and chief executive officer of the money management group, said Amcore decided to offer on-line services because of other banks' initiatives and customer demand.
"Clients asked, when we made sales calls, when we'd be having on-line trading," he said.
The new services are expected to attract new customers. And Mr. Kennebeck said he expects some full-service brokerage clients to convert to on-line trading.
Amcore predicts that 25% of its 4,000 brokerage customers will use the on-line brokerage. The bank plans to charge about $19.95 per trade, up to 1,000 shares.
"We're not competing against E-Trade," Mr. Kennebeck said, "but we are competing against other bank institutions."
Amcore said it plans to introduce on-line banking in September, giving customers a single point of access for both banking and trading accounts.
But on-line trading is just one way that Amcore is working to keep up with the competition.
On July 1, it merged its private banking group into its investment group. The reconfigured group is staffed by two portfolio managers, five private bankers, two fiduciary specialists, and one brokerage professional, who acts as a liaison for the brokerage unit, Mr. Kennebeck said. Clients meet with teams of three to four staff members, one of whom is designated as the primary relationship contact.
Les Dinkin, a managing principal of NBW Consulting Group in Westport, Conn., said it makes sense for a bank of Amcore's size-about $4.2 billion of assets-to combine private banking and investment functions.
"Large community banks have significant overlap," he said. Trust, private banking, and investment services typically draw the same clients, he said, and the move should reduce infrastructure costs.
"Integrating should give them a competitive advantage over larger competitors who may have done the same thing but are not as agile," he said.
Mr. Kennebeck said the combined groups have succeeded in terms of employee morale and customer satisfaction.
"Chemistry is everything in this business," he said.