If a financial institution were to combine the hand-holding personal attention provided by full-service investment brokers with the hands-off, technology-driven brokerage model that Charles Schwab and E-Trade use, it would probably look something like CoreStates Bank's Personal Investments Resource Center (PIRC) in Philadelphia.

The PIRC was built to be a cutting-edge facility, dramatically different from CoreStates' traditional, colonial-styled branches-both in design and mission. Created through a partnership with KnowledgeFlow and Unisys, PIRC is made up of four "zones:" the explore zone, workstation zone, seminar area and Net Worth Cafe, each supplied with various tools like touch screen software that teaches customers about mutual funds, retirement planning and other pressing financial issues. The cafe offers comfortable chairs, free coffee, CNBC on the television and stock quote links. There are two professional investment counselors on-site who provide financial advice, but the twist is they don't actually sell anything. "We've learned that there is a real market for (investment information)," says Rich Lindsay, svp and affluent segment manager. "There are still people confused, intimidated by investments and looking to the bank as a credible provider of that kind of information. ...Our first goal, though, was to use (PIRC) as a functional billboard, to announce that CoreStates is in the investment business."

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