Capitalizing on its new connection with Mellon Bank Corp., Dreyfus Corp. has begun promoting an army of banking and trust services to its mutual fund customers.
The nation's sixth-largest fund company, which was acquired in late August by Pittsburgh-based Mellon, is pitching trust accounts, retirement services, and mortgages ranging from $30,000 to $3 million.
And in coming months, Dreyfus plans to introduce an innovative service that will allow customers to have their bills paid automatically from money market mutual funds.
The offerings, which are being marketed under the banner of "personal financial care," were previewed in a letter sent recently to 900,000 Dreyfus account holders.
The package provides the first glimpse of how Dreyfus plans to use its identity as a bank unit to sharpen its competitive edge.
"We're still a provider of mutual funds and innovative services," said the letter, which was signed by Dreyfus president Joseph S. DiMartino. "But unlike others, we are now an integrated financial resource that can provide a lifetime of investment advisory services and personal financial care."
Mellon and Dreyfus have both cited a greatly enhanced ability to cross-market products and services as one of the key attractions of their merger.
"We're saying to the customer base of Dreyfus that one plus one equals three," Lawrence Kash, a vice chairman of the firm, said in a telephone interview. "There are a lot of services that are available to them now." Dreyfus' aim, he said, is to catch customers with services that meet their needs as they progress through the stages of saving, preserving, and transferring their assets.
The company is continuing the push in the October issue of its customer newsletter, said Mr. Kash, who recently joined Dreyfus from Boston Co., another Mellon subsidiary.
He said Dreyfus is considering additional steps, such as a direct marketing campaign to promote mortgages and trust services, but hasn't yet decided how to proceed.
The marketing drive is still in its very early stages, Mr. Kash added. "That list is a lot shorter than the one that's here on my desk."
Industry observers said they expect to see a greater focus on cross-selling as Mellon and Dreyfus gain more experience working together.
"They are emphasizing the renewed strength of a combined bank and mutual fund company," said James H. McKenzie, consulting director of the Spectrem Group, a San Francisco-based consulting firm.
Mr. McKenzie said the bill payment service, dubbed Dreyfus BillPay, is particularly noteworthy because it adds a new twist to Mellon's already popular telephone bill-paying service. Dreyfus is the first company to link the service to a money market fund.
"How many companies can do that?" Mr. McKenzie said. "It's a new benchmark."
While Dreyfus ran a small mortgage business through a savings bank it operated before its merger with Mellon, the combination gives the fund company considerably more heft and range.
For one thing, "we couldn't do jumbo mortgages before," said Dreyfus spokeswoman Diane Coffey, referring to home loans of more than $203,150 that cannot readily be resold in the secondary market.
Mellon's Boston Co. unit, which does a sizable business in jumbo loans through its private banking division, has already received a handful of leads from Dreyfus, Mr. Kash said.
Dreyfus is also developing technology that will enable employees who field customer inquiries to call up detailed client profiles on a computer screen.
The desktop system will enable customer service representatives "to deal with customers on kind of a seamless basis," Mr. Kash said. For instance, representatives will be able to see account histories as well as summaries of telephone inquiries made by a customer.
"This is not going to be done in a year," Mr. Kash said. "It's going to take a few years to develop both the hardware and software that goes with it."
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