In a sign that competition for deposits is heating up, two New York savings banks have launched aggressive campaigns to promote money market deposit accounts as a safe alternative to uninsured money market mutual funds.
Roosevelt Savings Bank of Garden City, N.Y., recently took out full-page advertisements in The New York Times to boost its "Dream Combo" account, an insured money market account with some features of a conventional CDs.
And Dime Savings Bank of New York is hawking its money market account as a way to "get T-bill rates without leaving the security of the bank."
An industry observer said the ad campaigns may strike a chord with consumers who are uneasy with investments, such as mutual funds, that lack federal deposit insurance.
"The banks have really woken up to the vacillations of the stock market," said Mark Schulman, president of Schulman, Ronca, Bucuvalas, a marketing firm in New York.
"They have a really good chance of luring customers back."
Roosevelt Savings' account blends the features of a certificate of deposit with the flexibility of a money market fund, said Walter Mullins, senior vice president of the thrift. "We're combining the best of both worlds," he said.
Like other money market deposit accounts, Roosevelt's features Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. coverage on balances of up to $100,000.
But in a twist, Roosevelt's account features a set minimum yield, currently 3.04%. The yield can rise as market conditions change, but can never fall below the floor as long as customers maintain a minimum balance of $5,000.
Few bank money market deposit accounts offer this CD-like feature. And money market mutual funds, which are uninsured investments, certainly do not.
In its ad, Roosevelt Savings plays off consumers' anxiety about uninsured investments.
"Does your money market investment leave you restless or resting easy?" the ad asks.
It features a cartoon showing a sleepless man worrying about "No insurance ... plunging market ... withdrawal penalties ... broker's fees ... no guarantees ..."
In the next frame, a soundly sleeping woman is dreaming of deposit insurance and a "great guaranteed rate."
'The Competition Is Pretty Tough'
Mr. Mullins said the ad was drawing a strong response from customers, but declined to say how many new accounts have resulted from the campaign.
He said the marketing campaign is part of the thrift's strategy to develop flexible products fully insured by the FDIC.
"The competition is pretty tough out there," said Mr. Mullins. "The FDIC insurance is important and so is the strength of the bank."
In its ads for the Dimevest money market account, Dime Savings focuses on the advantages of deposit insurance. Consumers are told, "As for the risk? Don't worry. There isn't any."