Dime Bancorp is preparing to blitz the New York banking market to woo consumer deposits away from its larger competitors.

Peyton R. Patterson, Dime's executive vice president for consumer financial services, leads the charge. She is one of five bankers who have jumped from New York's biggest commercial banks to the top management of Dime in the last year and a half.

Under the direction of Dime chairman Lawrence J. Toal, these executives are using intelligence gathered during their careers to speed Dime's transformation from a thrift to a more bank-like and consumer-friendly company.

In a recent interview at Dime's New York headquarters, Ms. Patterson said the $21.8 billion-asset thrift will spend the next few months launching retail products and building distribution.

"Thrifts have traditionally been very 'one-product-fits-all,'" Ms. Patterson said. "That's not really the way to target consumers."

Dime already ranks as New York's largest thrift, with 90 branches and $13.8 billion of deposits, as of Dec. 31. Its traditional strongholds include Brooklyn, where it ranks second in deposits with 16.3% market share, and Nassau County, where it ranks fifth in deposits with market share of 7.2%.

But elsewhere in the city, Dime is battling Goliaths. Four of the nation's largest commercial banks together control nearly 40% of the city's deposits, according to Sheshunoff Information Services. Chase Manhattan Corp., the nation's largest bank with $365 billion of assets, has 20%, or $82.9 billion, of New York City's deposits.

"One of our dilemmas is that we're small in comparison to the behemoths of Chase and Citi," Ms. Patterson said. "We are on a very aggressive effort to widen our distribution capabilities."

Ms. Patterson joined Dime in April 1996 as executive vice president of the bank's burgeoning consumer lending group. In June 1997 she took the helm of the thrift's retail branch network, deposit products, and brokerage services.

Like Dime's other four executive vice presidents, Ms. Patterson has spent most of her career at commercial banks. She started out at CoreStates Financial Corp. in 1983 and later jumped to Chemical Banking Corp. Most recently, Ms. Patterson was senior vice president and director of marketing for national consumer finance services at Chase.

"Consolidation in the banking industry has made a lot of very experienced, very qualified executives available to help thrifts in the transformation process," said Dan J. Kauth, of BT Alex. Brown.

Analysts said Dime has an advantage over other New York thrifts because it has strong name recognition with consumers. It has also done a better job of changing its mix of businesses from one that was dominated by residential mortgage loans in the early 1990s to an operation that now offers commercial and small-business loans as well as consumer products.

"Dime is in a good position to prosper," said Thomas O'Donnell, with Salomon Smith Barney.

Designing and offering new products represent one part of Dime's growth strategy. This spring the company will introduce a series of five packaged accounts designed to boost core deposits and steer customers into more profitable segments.

Dime's five new "relationship" products will combine an array of electronic services with linked accounts. This service is much like what the competition offers. Chase, Citicorp, Bank of New York Co., and Fleet Financial Group also offer no-fee linked deposit accounts.

The aim of these accounts is to weed out less profitable customers, Ms. Patterson said.

"We may not go after all segments," she said. "We're obviously not trying to alienate customers, but there are going to be some customers that are more profit-driven than others."

Distribution is the other part of the strategy. Dime will look at buying branches in certain markets where it has gaps and will add 50 automated teller machines throughout New York's five boroughs. Dime has 150 ATMs.

Branches will be reorganized, with each tailored to match consumer preferences in the neighborhoods they serve. Some branches will be loaded with electronic capabilities; some will have extra brokerage sales staff, Ms. Patterson said.

This year Dime's brokerage services will be expanded nationwide through the addition of offices acquired with North American Mortgage, a $374 million deal the thrift completed last fall.

"We're always looking to expand opportunities so it doesn't matter how many branches we have," she said.

Uphill challenges are part of what attracted her to Dime, Ms. Patterson said.

"I wanted to be able to get into an environment where I could just go with it," she added.

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