When New York's Hudson Valley Bank is fishing for deposits, president John Pratt Jr. doesn't advertise. To reel them in he turns instead to 85 assorted Westchester County residents.
Eschewing more expensive marketing techniques, the $525 million-asset bank has used an unusual business development board to generate much of the deposit growth during its 23-year history.
Members of the board refer business associates, clients, or friends to the bank as potential customers, occasionally working with bank officials on conference calls or at lunch meetings to initiate the contacts.
The idea is that the new deposit accounts generated, mostly business demand deposits, might eventually lead to other banking relationships.
"We don't do any advertising," Mr. Pratt said. "All of our business development is one on one."
The board, which started with only five people from the bank's hometown of Yonkers, consists of active businesspeople and professionals in the bank's market area who typically do all of their own banking through Hudson Valley. And each time the 12-branch bank adds a new facility in Westchester County, officials solicit new members for the board.
The board was part of the bank's original strategy. "Our intent from the very beginning was to have business development board members as good-will ambassadors," Mr. Pratt said.
Many other banks have used similar advisory boards as a way to keep the directors of an acquired institution active in the new bank's affairs, said David M. Partridge, director of the financial institutions practice at Towers Perrin in San Francisco. But "I don't know of any institution that's done a really good job," he said.
But Mr. Pratt said 40% of the contacts his bank makes hook a new account within 12 months. Sometimes it takes longer, though - in one case, he said, 12 years.