SAN DIEGO - Ted R. Ridlehuber says banks should want their customers to wake up in the middle of the night and worry - about their investments outside the bank.

Mr. Ridlehuber, president of Cannon Financial Institute, a sales-management consulting firm in Athens, Ga., said too many customers are "fat, dumb, and happy" when it comes to nonbank money managers.

He said that with brokerages and boutiques nibbling away at trust business, bankers must not retire from challenging existing clients and prospects.

Writing Off Competitors

Mr. Ridlehuber told bankers at the Bank Marketing Association's Investment Management and Trust Marketing Conference here that they must teach clients and prospects to be concerned about their investments.

Trust bankers who heard Mr. Ridlehuber said they were resolved to write off competitors who want a piece of their business.

"This has certainly been discussed often enough, but as with so many things, it takes a while for people to hear," said Douglas T. Stevenson, vice president of Hawaiian Trust Co., Ltd. in Honolulu.

Asking the Right Questions

To stir concern among clients, it is imperative to know their current financial situation, Mr. Ridlehuber explained. Questions should focus on objectives and goals and anything that they identify as bothering them about an outside manager.

Then, a trust employee should be armed with stories, situations and knowledge of case law to get customers asking the right questions of their financial advisers.

My object is that when I leave that meeting, that guy will wake up at least once at night and be concerned," he said.

Concerns over Needs

"I like concems better than I do needs," he added. "I think people can relate better to their concerns than their needs."

With tremendous potential in existing client bases, it is critical to retain current clients before tackling new prospects, he said. Knowing their perceptions of the bank and its service is important to guiding action.

One way to sample opinions is though surveys. But, too often they are intentionally designed to produce positive results.

A last of Questions

"You would be shocked by some of the questions," he said. For instance, one bank asked clients whether they receive statements from their financial advisers - and got a strong response from those who don't.

"Make sure you are asking the kind of questions that you need to be able to upgrade the level of service," he said.

Questions, he said, should be along the lines of:

* "Do you hear from us enough?

* What can we do better?

* And have you received one creative suggestion from your relationship manager in the last year?"

The bank should not tolerate a trust officer not knowing why a customer closed an account, he added.

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