BB&T Corp. says its first sweep account is delivering on the companys twin aims of grabbing a larger share of its affluent retail customers wallets and strengthening customer relationships.
The Smart Money Manager account lets the Winston-Salem, N.C., banking companys customers sweep cash assets including deposits and brokerage dividends into an FDIC-insured bank deposit account, taxable money market funds managed by BB&T, or nontaxable money funds managed by Federated Investors Inc. of Pittsburgh.
BB&T measures profitability by client, rather than by any single account, and hence stands to gain from making its customer relationships more comprehensive with this addition, said Sharon Jeffries-Jones, a senior vice president and business-line manager in BB&Ts financial management group. The month-old product has already brought in money, she said, though she would not say how much.
Smart Money Manager is intended to snag assets from affluent people who have accounts with several institutions. The hope is that they will want to link their checking and investment accounts and receive a single statement. Since the customers checking accounts are linked to their brokerage accounts, they can move assets easily between the two and get a single statement showing the cash and securities holdings in each.
When customers buy or sell securities in their brokerage account, transactions are automatically settled with funds from one of the sweep options. Dividends and other deposits to the brokerage accounts are automatically moved into the customers sweep option. Checks and debits made against the checking account are totaled daily, and funds equal to that amount are swept into the checking account to cover the checks and debits. Smart Money Manager customers have to maintain a minimum combined balance of $25,000 in their checking and brokerage accounts. After the first year BB&T will waive the $95 annual fee for customers who maintain an average account balance of at least $200,000.
More and more banks, trying to keep clients from going to wire houses, are introducing sweep accounts that combine banking and brokerage elements. Ms. Jeffries-Jones said she does not think BB&T is late to the game.
When it comes to offering a new product or service, when were not first, were a close follower, she said. She would not say why BB&T had not introduced an asset management account sooner.
Dennis McGonigle, an executive vice president at SEI Investments in Oaks, Pa., said sweep accounts are no longer viewed as a defensive measure for banks.
The type of customer who uses sweeps has already left, so a sweep program helps draw assets back to the bank, he said, adding that there is clear evidence that they do so. Though banks do not make as much from managing money in a money market fund as they do from lending it, the programs are still profitable, Mr. McGonigle said. Plus, he said, sweep programs do not cost much to set up. Geoffrey Bobroff, a consultant in East Greenwich, R.I., agreed with Mr. McGonigle, saying that banks launching sweep accounts will lose assets initially if the sweep account options are managed outside the bank.
But ultimately they will recapture the assets, because a banks sweep-account holders usually transfer assets held at other institutions to the bank, he said.