To woo small-business customers, a suburban Philadelphia community bank is offering an hour of free advice from an accountant, lawyer, or marketing specialist.

Jefferson Bank, Haverford, Pa., has rounded up more than 100 business advisers willing to give an hour of their time. In the program's first month, 25 business owners have taken advantage of the free help.

The $923 million-asset bank neither earns referral fees nor pays for the consultant's time. Harmon Spolan, Jefferson's president and chief operating officer, said the bank organized the network to improve customer relationships and lure prospects.

"It's a service we provide to attract small businesses that eventually will become big businesses," he said.

Mr. Spolan also said he expects the business advisers in the network to refer some of their other customers to Jefferson Bank.

Kevin B. Tynan, president of the Chicago consulting firm Tynan Marketing Inc., said few other banks offer such referral services because they are afraid bad service from the business advisers would reflect poorly on the bank.

Mr. Spolan said the bank screened its advisers and tells entrepreneurs the bank is not responsible for the quality of the professionals' advice.

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