National City Corp.’s corporate retirement planning service has become a revenue driver among its fee-based businesses.

Paul Clark, who heads the Cleveland banking company’s corporate fee business, said that in the last 18 months the bank has attracted $1.5 billion of assets to the corporate retirement planning business and earned $5 million of revenues from it, Mr. Clark said.

The corporate retirement services are “a premier product,” said Mr. Clark, who spoke last week at a New York conference held by Putnam Lovell Securities.

National City’s revenues have grown by about 10% annually, and assets serviced by the banking company have grown 60% since 1996, to $21 billion, according to William Roland, senior vice president and director of National City’s retirement plan services unit.

Mr. Roland said in an interview with American Banker that strong customer service and technology investments were responsible for corporate services’ growth.

Last year National City registered 80 new corporate clients for retirement services. The unit now manages 100,000 corporate consumers in 2,500 plans.

Corporate customers use the services for 401(k) accounts, mutual funds, and investment management. Members can gain access to their accounts online and by phone, and they get quarterly performance updates and newsletters.

The corporate plan, called Professional PlanWorks, lets plan holders choose their own brokers and up to 20 mutual funds from 22 fund families. Members can hold stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and securities in self-directed brokerage accounts.

“Senior investors have complete flexibility in the management of assets,” said Mr. Roland. “They can use their own broker or money manager.”

Mr. Roland said he visits 50 to 75 corporate clients a year to check on the services they get through the different retirement plans. The retirement plan services unit, with 275 employees, also mails formal surveys to its members.

The various retirement plans have been a success for the company, said Jennifer Thompson, an analyst at Putnam Lovell. “It is one of the bright spots of their fee businesses,” she said. “In the short term, they can continue this growth. The fee business is a key part of the growth strategy.”

Part of the plans’ appeal is in the vast number of choices offered, Ms. Thompson said. “They offer a supermarket of funds so the employees will be able to choose where to allocate retirement money,” she said. “It is convenience.”

Offering retirement services to corporate clients is a smart move for National City, said Michael Plodwick, an analyst at UBS Warburg. “They are trying to have more than just a lending business,” he said. “Banks are trying to be creative and clever in finding ways to do an increasing amount of business with companies.”

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