Joining the rush to single out customers with large balances, Boston-based BayBanks Inc. has launched a retail package for accounts with at least $25,000.
The BayBanks package came on the scene only a few weeks after the bank's merger partner, Bank of Boston Corp., announced its own retail banking package with a minimum balance of $5,000. A BayBanks official said it already has programs for customers with lower balances.
BayBanks is due to merge with Bank of Boston by July to create a New England retail and middle-market banking powerhouse, with $59 billion in assets.
Both banks now have a multitude of programs available to their customers.
One common feature of the two higher-balance programs is that they combine a variety of accounts - including checking, savings, investments, and loans - to let customers qualify. However, BayBanks goes one step further, allowing customers to include 5% of their mortgages in the balance.
Karen B. Green, senior executive vice president at BayBanks, said the latest package is intended to single out top customers with special service. Among the advantages: lower borrowing rates, higher rates on deposits, a phone-based service that links all units of the bank to the account, special teller windows, and priority processing of applications.
She said the bank doesn't expect any difficulty merging its own retail banking packages with those of Bank of Boston after the merger is completed.
Les Dinkin, managing principal with NBW Consulting Group Inc., noted that BayBanks has had a similar program with many of the same features in place since 1989, when it was first launched for customers with a $10,000 minimum balance. But the latest program, he said, is considerably more aggressive.
He called it a "smart integration" of top-customer segment programs already under way, "linked with some very aggressive relationship pricing."
But he also noted that BayBanks - and most other banks - have yet to offer similar recognition and services to small-business accounts.
"Small businesses have account balances on average three to four times larger than the average retail customer and are among the most profitable customers at banks," Mr. Dinkin said. "One would think banks would include them as part of their overall repricing, but time and again small businesses get lost between consumer and commercial accounts."