After a year spent building up its investment offerings, Peoples Bank of Bridgeport, Conn., has begun to market them.
On Connecticut stations airing Sundays Academy Awards show, the $14 billion-asset thrift premiered a series of television spots on themes such as retirement planning and college savings. In January, Peoples began running print and radio ads with the same themes, and in early April it plans to put up 10 billboards around Connecticut.
This campaign is the thrifts first major effort to promote investment services. Were really trying to build Peoples as a provider of financial services solutions, said Cynthia P. Belak, the thrifts first vice president of marketing. The ads are very simple and needs-based, as opposed to a product push, she said.
Ms. Belak would not say how much Peoples is spending on the campaign.
The ads are designed to appeal to Peoples own retail banking clientele from young people just starting out to affluent longtime customers, Ms. Belak said. We realized there are relationships out there we havent been able to secure, she said.
Peoples Securities Inc., the thrifts investment subsidiary, has about 40,000 customers, compared with the parents 360,000 checking account customers, a spokesman said, and most investment customers also have Peoples checking accounts.
Ms. Belak said that one difficulty in selling investment products through banking institutions is that customers are often unaware the products are available. In surveys by Russell Marketing Research, roughly half of Connecticut residents said they do not associate banks with investing.
A lot of consumers dont think of their local banker for investment products, said Jeffrey S. Infusino, co-head of the financial services consulting practice at Mercer Management Consulting in New York. Advertising, he said, is needed to get the word out.
But advertising alone will not work, Mr. Infusino said its customer service that ultimately drives a bank or thrifts investment business. For financial services products, institutions generally overinvest in advertising and underbuild on the customer experience.
Ms. Belak said that Peoples has been working to improve customer service and that the ad campaign caps a year in which it has significantly boosted its investment sales force.
In the last 12 months, she said, Peoples has doubled its force of licensed series 6 and series 7 salespeople, to 180, and is training 120 more. These employees work in Peoples branches and, since November, in its outposts in Stop & Shop supermarkets, which are open evenings and weekends.
The good news here is: If you want to discuss investments on Sunday afternoon, you can, Ms. Belak said.
She said the recent stock market downturn would not impede Peoples efforts.
Given the volatility in the marketplace, the customer is looking for guidance and assurance. This is a great time for us, she said.