The Massachusetts Bankers Association has launched an advertising campaign to convince consumers that banks are solid money managers.

The ads, running since early this year, compare the performance of banks with that of other money managers such as mutual funds and insurance companies. The comparisons are based on data provided by CDA Investment Technologies, Baltimore.

"For a long time the trust officers on the sales and management side didn't think the whole trust industry gets the respect it should for the performance it gets," said David E. Floreen, senior vice president with the association. Consequently, 23 of the state's 50 trust banks decided to shell out $40,000 for a statewide print campaign.

Massachusetts banks, with $186 billion in trust assets at the end of 1992, have 10.4% of the country's trust assets and rank third overall behind New York and California banks.

The ads were inserted in subscriber copies of Fortune, Money, Kiplinger's, Nations Business, Time, U.S. News & World Report, and Financial World, Mr. Floreen said. It was necessary to use a variety of publications because Massachusetts does not have publications that reach all the customers in the state, Mr. Floreen said.

The association hired Jonathan Wolfson & Associates, of Sharon, Mass., to develop the ad.

"While our image may be a bit restrained, our investment record is anything but," says the headline on the advertisement's marbleized background.

|Don't Doze Off Yet'

The ad campaign also plays off the trust business's somnolent image. After asking what comes to mind when thinking of trust bankers the ad urges, "Well, don't doze off yet. Because we also offer something You may not have expected: A record of investment performance that's waking everyone up."

Banks, the ad maintains, have outperformed investment advisers and mutual fund companies on equity investments for the past 10 years.

In findings released in January, CDA found that commercial bank trust departments posted slightly better returns than all other types of managers.

Banks returned 15.6%, compared with 15.4% for funds run by insurance companies, 15.3% for those managed by independent investment advisers, and 13.5% for the products of mutual fund companies, the study found. CDA did the study for the American Bankers Association, analyzing 1,489 equity fund managers from 1982 through 1992.

Outperforming Fund Firms

In fixed-income, bank trust departments lagged behind insurance companies but outperformed mutual fund companies.

Based on anecdotal evidence, the ads have been effective in bolstering trust bank's investment image, Mr. Floreen said. But the association doesn't have the budget to do a scientific study of the ads, he said.

In the next few weeks the association will be considering the campaign and whether to do it again next year. Sentiment seems to be for it, he said.

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