Dreyfus Corp. is on the prowl for a new type of customer.
The mutual fund unit of Pittsburgh's Mellon Bank Corp. plans to market its new cash management product, the Lion Account, to customers younger and more aggressive than those it currently serves.
Dreyfus is positioning the new account to appeal to investors who are female, between 35 and 50 years old, with an annual income of about $90,000, said Bill Glavin Jr., executive vice president in charge of marketing and product development.
This marks a departure for Dreyfus, whose average customer is currently 54 years old and conservatively invests in municipal bonds and money market mutual funds, Mr. Glavin said.
Dreyfus officially rolled out its long-awaited Lion Account last week. The product, which is expected to be fully operational in January, combines traditional banking services with investment products.
In addition to providing checking and debit card services, the Lion account enables customers to call a toll-free number for investment advice from a financial planner; trade stocks and bonds at Dreyfus' discount brokerage; and choose from 6,000 mutual funds, including 1,000 with no up- front fee.
Only Lion Account customers will have access to this mutual fund "supermarket." Lion Account balances will be swept daily into a money market mutual fund.
According to Mr. Glavin, Dreyfus conducted extensive market research and surveyed 1,600 past and present mutual fund investors to help it define a target audience for the Lion product. It came up with two groups of potential customers: "self-helpers" and "independent advice seekers."
These two groups, which make up 25% of mutual fund investors, want some investment advice but ultimately want to retain control over their investment decisions. These people told Dreyfus they do not have time to research investment options and are overwhelmed by the vast amount of available information, Mr. Glavin said.
"They need help making financial decisions and are struggling to find the resources and places to get it," he added.
Industry observers, however, question whether there is room for yet another mutual fund supermarket and diverse financial service account.
"The synergistic word of the '80s, "one-stop shopping," never panned out or proved to be correct," said mutual fund consultant Geoffrey H. Bobroff. "The '90s will show you can win with one-stop shopping as long as you offer choices." The only component of the Lion account that offers choice, Mr. Bobroff said, is the mutual fund supermarket.
Merrill Lynch introduced the first cash management account in 1972. Today, a handful of banks have cash management account products, including Wells Fargo & Co., First Union Corp., Bank of New York Co., and PNC Bank Corp.
"My guess is, to some extent, this is probably a defensive 'me-too' product to keep customers who haven't already gone to brokers," said Joy P. Montgomery, a consultant at Money Marketing Initiatives, Morristown, N.J. She did acknowledge that this product will appeal to customers who want to stay with a bank and are afraid of brokers.
A television and print ad campaign for the Lion Account will begin Jan. 16. Dreyfus, which had been off the air for 18 months, is currently running a series of TV commercials featuring Joseph the lion to reestablish its brand identity, Mr. Glavin said.