Tired of watching their market share decline, bank marketers of trust and investment management to the wealthy met here to resolve how to stay in the game.
While the 180 trust bankers attending the 25th annual Bank Marketing Association Investment Management and Trust Marketing conference here brushed up on sales techniques - a session on making the most of a client meeting was jam-packed - they also came to find out more about new ways to gather assets, such as marketing on the Internet.
Marketing investment management at a bank is not getting any easier, even for old hands, as nonbanks get more and more aggressive, said one banker attending the session. Joseph C. Guyaux, PNC Bank Corp.'s senior vice president in charge of private banking, said: "Our biggest challenge is not to just compete on price and performance, but to define and sell investment management. It's hard to put into practice."
One new marketing practice bankers were eager to hear about is obtaining new clients through alliances with other financial services firms, said conference committee chairwoman Margaret M. "Marty" DeVine.
Ms. DeVine, a Wells Fargo Bank vice president and regional manager based in Washington, D.C., organized program planning over the course of the past year - at a time when Comerica Inc. and Bank of Boston Corp. aligned with PaineWebber Inc. and Wilmington Trust did so with Morgan Stanley Inc. to get brokers to refer affluent clients to the banks for trust services.
"This is going to be the way we'll all survive. If you can't compete with them, join them," Ms. DeVine said.
While the nonbanks have advantages such as glamour on their side, bankers still have the upper hand when it comes to credibility and trust, said Jack Schatz, president of Corporate Concepts Ltd., New York. Mr. Schatz, who led the session on alliances, said they are necessary in the trust business.
"Doing things the usual way tends to bring the usual results," he said.
One audience member weighed in with personal experience. Gary E. Hippenstiel, chief investment officer of Legacy Trust Co., Houston, said that although his bank no longer has a contract with PaineWebber, their marketing alliance continues on a "good faith" basis.
The original deal fell apart when PaineWebber brokers wanted to refer clients with accounts too small for Legacy, Mr. Hippenstiel explained. But, he said, the spirit of the alliance was still worth keeping because "the trust company gets a huge distribution network."