The chairman of Principal Bank is betting that its newly hired chief executive officer, with her experience in cross-marketing technologies, will help the thrift market to more clients of its parent, Principal Financial Group of Des Moines.

“We’ve had good penetration, prospecting among customer rollovers and among customers of the Principal Residential Mortgage unit,” said Paul Bognanno, the thrift’s chairman and its acting president and chief executive. “But we haven’t focused on payouts from individual or group life policies. Those are areas we can do.”

The thrift announced on Friday that it had hired Barrie Christman to be chief executive officer. She is to start Sept. 17. Mr. Bognanno assumed the acting titles after the departure in April of a CEO who, the company said, left to pursue other interests.

Ms. Christman will return to Des Moines after several years at Huntington National Bank in Columbus, Ohio. She has also held senior management posts at Mellon Bank and with Banc One Corp.’s Ohio offices in Dayton and Columbus. She was not available for an interview.

Principal Financial Group started its federally insured online thrift in February 1998 to help it retain assets, which Mr. Bognanno said is a key issue for the insurer. “People receive payments from Principal, whether from their 401(k) plans or their insurance policies,” he said. “Principal wants the opportunity to retain those assets.”

The thrift’s customers come primarily, but not exclusively, from Principal Financial’s customer base. “We don’t market outside aggressively,” Mr. Bognanno said. “We’re not competing with the banking industry.”

Principal Bank offers basic banking products such as checking and savings accounts, loan products, money market accounts, and certificates of deposit, as well as individual retirement accounts, home equity loans and lines of credit, consumer loans, student loans, and credit cards. Customers can move their money and pay bills online for no additional fee.

The thrift also cross-sells its products to customers of two of the insurer’s other divisions: Principal Residential Mortgages Inc. (of which Mr. Bognanno is the president and CEO) and Principal Capital Real Estate Investors. It refers customers who want mortgages to Mr. Bognanno’s division.

In Principal Bank’s three-and-a-half years of existence, it has gathered slightly more than $900 million of deposits and $986 million of assets, Mr. Bognanno said.

Some people do not necessarily want to make long-term investment decisions on their rollover proceeds right away, he said. “It’s not uncommon for us to open CD accounts” for these people, he said. “They either want something more liquid or more secure” than a fixed annuity or a mutual fund.

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