Marine Midland Bank has spruced up its investment product and trust operations by consolidating several business lines and combining two sales forces.
The Buffalo-based subsidiary of HSBC Holdings North America merged its discount brokerage and investment products sales forces, effective Aug. 1. It also pared five trust-related business units down to three.
"We've combined some things where we think there ought to be a synergy and given some of my direct reports greater responsibility," said Kerry Alberti, executive vice president for investment services.
Investment management, private banking, and employee benefit trust services are now a single unit under Jonathan W. Reynolds, a senior vice president formerly in charge of investment management.
Warren G. Tischler, a senior vice president who previously oversaw the bank's private banking group, now heads Marine Investments, a newly created retail investments unit.
Corporate trust, the third business line under Mr. Alberti, remains unchanged and is headed by Eric Parets, the company said.
For retail customers seeking investment products, the main advantage of the reorganization will be less confusion over whom to see, Mr. Alberti said.
And by moving Mr. Tischler, a private banker, to retail investments, Mr. Alberti said the bank expects to encourage greater referrals between the retail sales force and the personal trust department.
Richard B. Ross, a brokerage sales consultant in Glencoe, Ill., called the moves "very sensible." But he remained skeptical about their ability to energize the bank's retail program.
"Marine Midland has a history of making changes but has not been very productive in anything they've done," he said.
But Mr. Alberti points to a 20% increase in investment and trust fee income for the first half of the year over the same period last year as evidence that business is looking up.
In fact, Mr. Alberti said, that jump was driven largely by a 50% increase in retail investment sales.
"We've done a better job of recruiting and training financial advisers, we've done more marketing and shifted the focus from product sales to financial planning," Mr. Alberti said.
Baby boomers, in particular, have warmed to the bank's offer of a free financial plan, Mr. Alberti said. And Marine Midland is supporting efforts by its force of more than 80 investment specialists to gain certification as financial planners.