Bank of New York Co.'s remodeled investment product sales program is focusing on small businesses.
BNY Investment Center, the brokerage unit of the New York banking company, is pitching 401(k) programs, insurance, and individual investment offerings to companies with 50 to 2,000 employees. Bank executives estimate there are 165,000 such businesses in the greater New York area.
Investment product sales to small businesses account for 10% of all sales done by BNY Investment Center. The banking company is looking to increase that figure to 25% within two years.
Bank of New York has intensified its focus on small business since bringing its brokerage program in-house, said John Pugliese, the executive vice president in charge of the branch system.
Until November, the $63 billion-asset banking company contracted out for brokerage services through the investment products marketer Essex Inc. of New York. Now, all 70 of the programs' brokers are employed by Bank of New York.
"We feel more comfortable using representatives who are truly employees of the Bank of New York," Mr. Pugliese said.
BNY Investment Center's bid for more small-business customers dovetails with a bankwide push in small-business lending and includes a combination of existing products and new initiatives. "With a little bit of refocus and the rolling out of new products, we thought we could do a better job in reaching this customer segment," Mr. Pugliese said.
One new initiative is to offer employees of small companies the One Wall Street Plus account, which combines information about investment products such as mutual funds with traditional bank offerings. "This serves as a convenience for customers, allowing them to keep everything on one consolidated statement," Mr. Pugliese said.
Bank of New York is also offering small businesses its Group Banking product, which offers employees an array of services at a discount. In the case of investment products, customers receive lower brokerage fees.
The bank is also stepping up its insurance product sales to the sector, with a menu featuring whole life and term life. As part of the effort, investment sales representatives and loan officers visit small-business clients , where they can provide information on Bank of New York's investment product offerings such as mutual funds and annuities.
Bank of New York is also stepping up its marketing of 401(k) retirement programs. The programs will include Bank of New York's Hamilton mutual funds, which have $6 billion of assets under management, Mr. Pugliese said.
"We don't put customers in a box," Mr. Pugliese said. "Instead we understand their needs and recognize it's not one-product-fits-all."
The effort to bring investment products to small-business owners and employees represents a "tremendous" opportunity for Bank of New York, said Andrew Collins, a banking analyst at ING Barings LLC.
Many of these individuals are unlikely to be targeted by other companies and as such could be receptive to the overtures, Mr. Collins said.
The small-business sales program could also drum up business for Bank of New York's trust services, Mr. Collins said.
Meanwhile, Bank of New York is continuing a drive to sell investment products to more of its retail banking customers. The bank estimates that just 5% of the households it serves have invested in mutual funds or annuities through Bank of New York sales representatives and is looking to increase that number.
Both the retail and the small-business investment sales programs are part of Bank of New York's efforts to be responsive to shifting customer sentiment, said Joseph M. Velli, senior executive vice president in charge of retail business.
"In today's environment of customers migrating to investment products and away from traditional products, you're not going to be able to continue growing your profit and loss statement without a focus on noninterest income," Mr. Velli said.