Seeking to gain some ground on its banking and brokerage competitors, Glendale Federal Bank has expanded its cash management account to include same-day sweep of excess funds in and out of uninsured money market funds.
The expansion, announced Monday, is designed to go after what chairman and chief executive officer of the California thrift Stephen J. Trafton calls "the largest untapped market out there"-the middle-income customer.
Glenfed's move will now allow customers with household income of $25,000 to $75,000 a year to automatically link their checking accounts to money market funds offered by Kemper Funds, Chicago.
Glenfed's customers can open a bundled account-dubbed Infinity-with as little as $100. The thrift's $6 monthly fee is waived for customers who maintain a balance of $600, Mr. Trafton said. The Infinity account was introduced in February 1996.
"We're adding the ability to design an investment in either a tax-exempt or taxable money market fund," said Mr. Trafton. Customers can now set up the Infinity account to sweep excess funds back and forth or transfer funds over the phone, he said.
The bank will now provide a link through the Infinity account to the Kemper Government Securities Money Market fund and a tax-exempt California Money Market fund, which invests in California municipal securities.
While most banks offer money market accounts, Glenfed's addition of a sweep into money market funds puts its bundled account on a par with those offered by brokerage firms such as Merrill Lynch & Co., Mr. Trafton noted. The account is also within reach of more customers than similar products offered by other banks.
"Generally the minimums in these other accounts are $10,000 to $15,000, and the same is true of the major brokerage houses," Mr. Trafton noted.
Though Glenfed customers could previously have their Glenfed Brokerage Services accounts linked to Infinity, the bank did not provide the automatic link-up that the new sweep capability provides, Mr. Trafton said.
The money-fund sweep feature makes Infinity "a unique product," he said.
In roughly six months, the bank plans to further extend Infinity by offering a range of no-load mutual funds from a number of third-party providers. Mr. Trafton said Glenfed won't offer proprietary funds because they "run dangerously close to being a conflict of interest."
The bank will begin by offering Kemper Funds but will add others. Mr. Trafton said that he hopes eventually to have "in excess of 100 different mutual funds."