Infinex Financial Group, a third-party provider of investment services to banks, is repositioning itself to serve an expanded market under its new president and CEO.
"Our role is to make community banks not only survive in the future but thrive," said Stephen P. Amarante, who took the helm of the Hartford, Conn., company in December. "We're continually evolving to be better and better."
Previously executive vice president at Infinex, Mr. Amarante succeeded Robert F. Brawders Jr., who resigned in December, citing personal reasons.
Infinex is mostly owned by the Connecticut Bankers Association, and the majority of its 31 banking relationships are in-state. But the company is making an effort to do more business out of state.
To broaden its appeal, in December it changed its name from CTAS Cos. The moniker of its broker-dealer, Connecticut Association Securities Inc., was "geographically limiting," Mr. Amarante said.
Since November, Infinex has netted three bank clients in Massachusetts and three in New Hampshire, Mr. Amarante said.
And the company plans to hire a sales manager specifically for Massachusetts and New Hampshire because "you can't manage a community bank program outside of a two-hour radius," he said.
Further cementing Infinex's entrance into the state, the Massachusetts Bankers Association agreed in January to become a shareholder and recommend the third-party firm to its members. The group has the option of owning shares equal to the Connecticut Bankers Association stake, according to the letter of intent.
It was an opportunity to work with the Connecticut group and "help set the agenda for the manner in which the service is provided to member banks," said Kevin Kiley, executive vice president of the Massachusetts group.
Though Infinex is small compared with national third-party marketers such as Invest Financial Corp. of Tampa, its sales have increased 500% since fiscal year 1994. It sold $146 million of investment products in the fiscal year that ended July 31.
The company has had some problems because of its lack of name recognition outside its home state, but it has won 11 bank clients in the past 11 months, Mr. Amarante said.
One banker said he believes Infinex gave his bank more control than large third-party marketers would have. "That's extremely important to us," said James D. Egan, president of Bank of Canton (Mass.), which introduced its investment program last Monday.
Infinex has also formed a marketing advisory committee. Its members, marketing directors and brokers from several banks, "decide what we should be doing and creating from a marketing perspective," Mr. Amarante said.
The company is also working with clients to design platform programs for bank employees. The program should be unveiled in two banks in May, Mr. Amarante said, but he declined to identify them.
"This industry continually changes, and so you can never remain stagnant and offer the same things you did three years ago," he said. "And if you're going to make the programs successful, you've got to continue to be on the cutting edge."