A Hartford, Conn., bank is to become the first to offer both 401(k) and investment products from Cigna Financial Services Inc., a discount brokerage firm.
First National Bank of New England expects to offer the products from Cigna Financial, also of Hartford, in a few months, said Leslie Galbraith, president, chief operating officer, and chief financial officer of the $252 million-asset bank.
Cigna is a well-recognized name, Ms. Galbraith said, and has products that "we think will appeal to our small-business owners."
Small banks often turn to third-party marketing firms such as Invest Financial Corp. of Tampa or PrimeVest Financial Services of St. Cloud, Minn., for help in offering investment products.
But these firms typically cater to individual investors, and First National lends primarily to small businesses. Cigna also offers a 401(k) product geared toward First National's clientele.
It is often difficult for small plans to get the service and features available to a larger plan, Ms. Galbraith said.
The bank plans to display Cigna Financial's brochures in 10 offices around the country, and loan officers will refer customers to the brokerage's call center in Hartford. Or customers can visit Cigna's Hartford branch-in the same building as the bank's main office.
Will Bashan, president of Cigna Financial, said the alliance would help the firm boost its retirement assets under management. It has about $50 billion under management and is seeking partnerships with other banks, he said.
Cigna Financial also hopes to boost assets by selling discount brokerage and wrap products to First National's high-net-worth customers. "I think it has tremendous potential. We've got to wait and see," Mr. Bashan said.
Separately, the bank said Tuesday that it is selling its only deposit- taking branch, as well as its checking and money market accounts, to Hudson United Bank, a unit of Hubco Inc., Mahwah, N.J. First National will continue to offer certificates of deposit and originate commercial loans. It also said it would change its name to First International Bank in late January.