Continuing to expand its custody and fund administration business in the shadow of giants, Fifth Third Bancorp now has $103 billion of assets under care.

The Cincinnati-based banking company manages $12.5 billion of assets for investment clients in separate accounts and a proprietary mutual fund family. But most of its business is administering for third parties through Fifth Third Securities Services Group.

That subsidiary provides custody, fund accounting, and back-office services to accounts from mutual fund, trust, insurance companies, investment advisers, and public pension systems across the country. It represents over $90 billion of assets.

Fifth Third Securities adds 10 to 20 clients a year and has increased revenues 30% per year since 1992, according to Scott Degerberg, president of the unit.

"We compete against major players like State Street and Bank of New York and Northern Trust," he said.

While the custody business continues to undergo a consolidation in which the largest competitors are buying books of business from smaller ones, Mr. Degerberg said Fifth Third distinguishes itself by angling for accounts of less than $10 billion.

"We think we can provide more flexibility in their service needs than larger institutions can provide," he said.

The custody business has been consolidating in large part because of increasing costs. But Mr. Degerberg said Fifth Third Securities keeps its costs down by sharing resources with the bank's data processing unit, Midwest Payment Systems, a provider of electronic funds transfer, merchant credit card, and ATM network processing.

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