The new FleetBoston Financial Corp. announced Wednesday that it had taken its first big step toward building an on-line financial superstore.
The two banking Web sites of the old merger partners, Fleet Financial Group and BankBoston Corp., now provide access to accounts at Quick & Reilly, FleetBoston's on-line brokerage unit.
Consumers can use a single sign-on for Internet banking, move funds between bank and brokerage accounts, and view information on all of their accounts at one Web page, $185 billion-asset FleetBoston said.
"We want customers to be able to buy every financial service and product through one place and give them access to all of those accounts and services in one place, with one log-on," said Blaise Heltai, FleetBoston's managing director of Internet strategy.
Linking on-line brokerage and bank services was the first logical first step, Mr. Heltai said, because on-line brokerage is "really leading on-line commerce."
FleetBoston has reportedly budgeted $100 million for Internet initiatives, but officials declined to discuss the report or what the company's next steps will be.
The Boston banking companies merged last month, but their Internet banking services will not be combined until the first half, because of year-2000 concerns. The new offering will "look like the best of both," Mr. Heltai said. In addition, "it will be a next-generation service."
Fleet and BankBoston had different on-line strengths, Mr. Heltai said. For example, BankBoston had a more sophisticated funds transfer capability, but Fleet linked a larger number of accounts, he said.
FleetBoston expects the linkage of on-line banking and brokerage to provide ample cross-selling opportunities. FleetBoston has 700,000 on-line banking customers and is adding 12,000 to 15,000 every month, Mr. Heltai said. Many of those customers lack on-line brokerage accounts and are therefore ripe prospects for Quick & Reilly's service, Mr. Heltai said.
Quick & Reilly, meanwhile, found through a survey that more than three-quarters of its customers said they would probably open an integrated bank and brokerage account if one were available, according to Thomas C. Quick, president of Quick & Reilly.
"We're able now to truly cross-sell our products and services as a result of the link," he said.
Mr. Quick said there were "currently no plans" to integrate Quick & Reilly's Suretrade discount brokerage into the combined bank-brokerage services.