Harris Bank, which has traditionally catered to higher-end investors, is reducing its investment minimum in an effort to reach more of the affluent market.
The Chicago-based unit of Bank of Montreal has set up a division focusing on customers with $250,000 to $750,000 of investable assets in cash, securities, or retirement income. The previous minimum was $750,000.
"We're going after people who have not had a lot of personalized treatment in the past," said Louisa Guthrie, the senior vice president overseeing the program.
"With the right product mix and personal service, we think we can make tremendous inroads into our client base."
Harris said it plans to target senior executives and other professionals too busy to develop an investment strategy, as well as people approaching retirement.
"Many of these people have considerable assets but no plan, no organized approach," Ms. Guthrie said.
"They are not quite sure what investment program they fit into."
The bank will use direct mail in pitching to its existing customers but will also try to find new ones, Ms. Guthrie said.
Customers will be assigned a portfolio manager who will develop a financial plan and recommend an investment mix, she said.
Customers also will have access to bank services such as checking and savings accounts and loans.
Investment offerings may include Harris' proprietary Insight Funds, which have $7.7 billion of assets under management in 18 portfolios, Ms. Guthrie said.
David B. Master, managing director of the Optima Group in Fairfield, Conn., said Harris is probably looking to the capture assets accumulated through the stock market.
"People have made money and are looking for a safer environment to put away their gains," he said.
Harris is pursuing a large but very discerning group, said William White, practice leader at Spectrem Group in San Francisco.
"The attractive aspect of that market is that there is a lot of them," Mr. White said
"It's just a matter of reaching them with the right program. If you're perceived as providing good advice and comprehensive product offerings, the closer you are to gaining a share of their wallet."
Revenues from Harris' private-client and wealth-management businesses have risen about 50% in the past five years, according to its fourth-quarter fiscal report.
With the new program, Harris said, it hopes to extend this success.
"We want to get people in-house who in time will grow into larger investors," Ms. Guthrie said.