WASHINGTON -- Bane One Corp. and PNC Bank Corp. are widely seen as trailblazers in investment product sales, but executives say they are still working out the kinks in their programs.
For example, Bane One recently discovered a gap in its plan to create four types of personal investment centers. The Columbus, Ohio, banking company responded by adding a fifth level of service geared toward private banking clients.
And PNC, based in Pittsburgh, is revamping its entire business, starting with its sales force.
These experiences, aired at a symposium held here last week by the Consumer Bankers Association, underscore that the banking industry is still experimenting with the best ways to deliver investment services.
Ends Marketing Relationship
Last month, PNC brought its investment products program in-house, having used GNA Corp., a marketing firm based in Seattle, to provide alternative investments to the banks' customers since 1991, said A. William Schenck 3d, executive vice president.
Operating a full-service brokerage on its own "was a watershed decision for PNC," Mr. Schenck told a group of 100 bankers at a session titled "Consumer investment sales: Build it, rent it, or buy it?"
PNC originally opted to "rent" GNA's services for two years because the bank "didn't know how to hire and train brokers," Mr. Schenck said. "And they also brought us a good product line."
He added: "We also got some good references from Bank of America," a GNA client.
Although he termed the program run by GNA "very successful," Mr. Schenck said using a third-party firm to market investment products in PNC's branches had some disadvantages. Among them: restrictions on sharing data, such as lists of customers who have certificates of deposit, with outsiders.
Now that its investment sales representatives are employees of PNC's brokerage unit, the bank feels more comfortable about sharing customer lists, he said.
While PNC jump-started its program with outside help, Bane One opted to build its own program from scratch.
About two years ago, Bane One settled on the idea of creating four types of "personal investment centers" to provide varying levels of service and products.
But Bane One's program is still evolving. The bank recently decided to add the fifth category of personal investment center for private banking customers, said Craig J. Kelly, senior vice president at Bane One.
Other bankers are struggling with similar issues. National Westminster Bank, New York, for example, brought its investment products program inhouse in January.
Another hot topic at the conference was whether to use platform bankers who are licensed only to sell mutual funds and annuities or to staff branches with full-service salespeople.
Natwest plans to require its sales representatives to have the Series 7 license issued by the National Association of Securities Dealers.
Series 7 brokers can sell a broad range of investment products; the Series 6 license held by most Natwest brokers limits them to selling mutual funds.
Keycorp, which recently merged with Cleveland's Society Corp., is also moving in the direction of having a sales force staffed with Series 7 brokers, said John P. Mastriani, president and chief executive officer of Key Trust Co. & Investment Management Group.
Ironically, San Franciscobased Bank of America, once the staunchest supporter of a Series 7 sales force, recently shifted gears and decided to add sales- people who hold the Series 6 license.