trading to retain its brokerage customers.
The Cleveland banking company will let customers access their accounts and place trades on-line early next year.
The service, whose pricing structure is still being worked out, would let KeyCorp retain customers who increasingly want more avenues for access to investment products.
"Our clients have stated emphatically that they want to be connected to their accounts over the Internet," said Thomas McDonald, senior managing director of the private client group of McDonald Investments Inc., the brokerage arm of KeyCorp.
Mr. McDonald said the company believes Generation Xers will make up much of the initial traffic, but it will not be long before a broader demographic logs on: "Over time, usage will grow as everyone becomes more savvy with the Internet."
Banks are embracing on-line trading to prevent assets migrating to nonbank brokerages such as E-Trade Group, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based discount operation. Within the past year BB&T Corp. of Winston-Salem, N.C., Comerica Inc. of Detroit, and Huntington Bancshares of Columbus, Ohio, all began offering customers the ability to trade on line.
Banks initially moved to offer on-line brokerage as a defensive measure, said Kenneth Hemauer, a banking analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co. of Milwaukee.
"The last thing a bank wants is to see a customer depart because they were denied a certain delivery system," he said, and more mainstream investors are expected to migrate on-line.
KeyCorp plans to make sure its customers do not overextend themselves as they engage in on-line trading. The company's brokers will review each trade to determine whether it was the right move for the customer. If not, Mr. McDonald said, brokers "are going to be required to call and say, 'Do you know this is out of your league?' "
The approach is in line with how KeyCorp offers investment products, Mr. McDonald said. "We are still in the business of selling advice," he said.