Banking companies scrambling for liquidity are not the only ones courting depositors these days.
Those with solid financials are stepping up their efforts to exploit the opportunity created as weaker rivals exit the market.
Kenneth D. Lewis, the chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Bank of America Corp., said the Charlotte company raised $9 billion of deposits during an eight-day period last quarter as customers looked for a safe haven.
JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s acquisition of Washington Mutual Inc., which was offering above-market rates in its final days, should ease competition for deposits, Mr. Lewis said Monday during his company's third-quarter earnings call.
"The fact that Washington Mutual is now owned by Chase is very positive, because they were a huge outlier on rates," Mr. Lewis said. If Wells Fargo & Co. beat Citigroup Inc. in acquiring Wachovia Corp., "that would be very positive as it relates to rates, because they are a very rational pricer."
Peter Knitzer, the chairman and chief executive of Citibank North America, said it is also reaching out to customers looking for a stable home for their cash. On Oct. 1 it launched a promotional campaign for a pair of new six-month certificates of deposit, including one offering an annual percentage rate of 4%.
The New York company routinely launches promotions, Mr. Knitzer said last week, but doing so now is meant to reinforce "the fact that Citibank has been here for 200 years and is a stable and solid institution is important to folks, and we plan on being here for years and decades to come."
Greg McBride, a senior financial analyst at Bankrate Inc. in North Palm Beach, Fla., said the IndyMac Bancorp Inc. failure in July, Wamu's failure last month, and Wachovia's pending sale have combined to rattle depositors' nerves. In response, he said, many bankers are tailoring promotions or launching new ones.
And John Matheny, the director of sales and marketing for the Austin consulting firm Brintech Inc., said this market offers opportunities for small companies. "I think this could be an opportunity for community and regional banks to take back a large amount of core deposits from big banks."
Jennifer Carlson, a spokeswoman for TD Banknorth Inc., said the Portland, Maine, unit of Toronto-Dominion Bank launched a campaign for a special 11-month CD offering a 3.25% APR in the last week of September.
The campaign, designed to "attract customers from other institutions who may not be as sure about their bank," was so successful that TD Banknorth has extended it, Ms. Carlson said. She would not quantify the results.
A.J. Kucera, a vice president for Zions Bancorp.'s banking unit, said the Salt Lake City company had been running an ad campaign for several months for a high-yield business MoneyPlus account offering a 3.04% rate. The campaign was updated in response to "the current market conditions."
The new ad bears the tag line "A Solid Bank with a Great Rate."
Capital One Bank has also tweaked the tag line of an ongoing campaign advertising a "locked" 14-month CD with a 4% APR and a "liquid" interest checking account that offers a 3.01% APR with a minimum balance of $10,000. The tag line now reads, "There's safety in numbers."
"It's the same products, but we tweaked the message, because that's what's on consumers' minds," said Mike Dobbins, the executive vice president in charge of the consumer division at the Capital One Financial Corp. unit.
According to a Bankrate.com survey of banks conducted Oct. 1, the average yield for a one-year CD rose 2 basis points from a week earlier, to 2.47%. The average yield for a five-year CD climbed 3 basis points, to 3.51%.
Chris Stulpin, an analyst at D.A. Davidson & Co., said the Federal Reserve Board's 50-basis-point cut in its key rate Wednesday, to 1.5%, is unlikely to push deposit rates down any time soon.
"Deposits are still king, and it's the best funding that you can muster these days, so I don't expect any material changes in deposit promotions," Mr. Stulpin said.
Ken Thomas, the Miami consultant who operates the Web site Branchlocation.com, said many bankers "just want to keep the liquidity pipeline going" for when they start ramping up their lending again. Also, a few banks out there are aggressively lending and running deposit promotions to fund the loans, Mr. Thomas said.