Northern Trust Co. has hired a top mortgage executive from a Chicago rival to lead a push in home lending, especially to lower-income borrowers.

Peter J. Taglia joined the trust bank as a vice president this spring after 10 years at First Chicago's mortgage unit, where his responsibilities included retail sales and secondary marketing.

Mr. Taglia said he shifted to Northern Trust for a new opportunity and as a way of staying in Chicago. First Chicago moved mortgage operations out of the city following its December merger with NBD Corp.

In the new position, Mr. Taglia replaced Richard Schonhoff, who now heads one of Northern Trust's suburban banks.

Mr. Taglia said his responsibilities include helping to change the perception of Northern Trust, which has faced Community Reinvestment Act issues.

"We have a strong marketing push to let people be aware that Northern Trust is not just the big, stuffy bank dealing with Fortune 500 executives," Mr. Taglia said.

In this year's budget, the bank is spending as much to woo lower-end borrowers as it is to court the affluent, Mr. Taglia said. He declined to disclose figures.

And, to further its reach, the bank recently opened a branch in predominantly low-income South Chicago.

The broader approach will benefit Northern Trust, which last year made $600 million in mortgage loans, Mr. Taglia said.

"There is just as much profit potential for (lending to) first-time homebuyers as there is with the affluent, provided the programs are structured correctly."

Indeed, the mortgage unit is not forgetting the high-end customers that - through trust and private banking services - provide most of Northern Trust's income.

"Mortgages are an important part of financial planning for affluent borrowers," Mr. Taglia said.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.