Society Corp. Triples Enrollment in Mature-Market Program

Since revamping its program for the mature market two years ago, Society Corp. of Cleveland has posted remarkable membership growth.

The $15 billion-asset banking company has enrolled more than 100,000 households in its program. That is more than three times the 32,000 enrollment 1988. The 100,000 households represent at least 200,000 people.

The increase can be attributed in large part to a relaunching in 1989 of its Prime Advantage package, which gives older people discounts on bank products and services if they keep at least $10,000 on deposit.

Bank Develops Magazine

Participants now get copies of a quarterly magazine developed by the bank and aimed at readers older than 50. In addition, bank employees who work in the program have had sensitivity and sales training on the needs of older customers.

To heighten awareness of its program, the bank began co-sponsoring senior-citizen expositions in Ohio that feature booths and information on financial and health issues. It also produced a television show on retirement planning that was broadcast on a public station.

Michael Sullivan, president of Michael B. Sullivan Associates, a Charlotte, N.C.-based bank consulting firm, called Society's package "the most progressive mature-market program in the country."

Society has good reason to solicit senior citizens aggressively. Over-50 citizens control more than half the wealth in the United States and keep sizable amounts on deposit.

A Rich Group

Mr. Sullivan estimated that consumers in successful mature-market programs maintain average deposits of $40,000. This indicates Society is reaping a windfall of low-cost deposits.

And as Mr. Sullivan pointed out, Society is one of a handful, if not the only, bank with a senior executive running its mature-market program.

"I believe we're the second-largest program in the country," said Mark Cooper, senior vice president at Society and market manager of the program.

He cited Barnett Banks Inc. of Jacksonville, Fla., as the biggest in the business. A Barnett spokesman said deposits "are in the billions" for its Senior Partners program, a savings account that requires no minimum balance and includes benefits like free checking.

Dancin' Grannies

At the expositions, Society sponsors appearances by the Dancin' Grannies, an aerobics troupe that is popular among senior citizens because it portrays them as active.

"They are an attention-getter," said Mr. Cooper. "I think we get a lot of bang for our buck with them."

Since Dancin' Grannies was founded in 1984, the Arizona group has captured much national publicity. It has appeared in ads for Provident Bank of Maryland and at expositions sponsored by several banks in the Midwest and California.

Beverly Gemigniani, founder of the aerobics troupe, said, "We tie in beautifully because I am saying to people looking into older age - don't just fall into it." Society's program "is really saying the same thing - financially," she said.

Busing Customers to Fairs

At two senior-citizen expositions last month, Society distributed red plastic bags emblazoned with the bank's name and containing product and service information. A handful of bank branches also chartered buses to take customers to the fairs.

Mr. Cooper said the expositions are a way to reach new clients and to reward existing customers. Mostly, he said, however, they "show the community that we were here to help them not just with their money, but with their lives."

Table : Consumer Money IndexMarket CREDIT CARD PERSONAL AUTO 8/6 7/30 8/6 7/30 8/6 7/30New York 19.21 19.21 18.35 18.35 13.04 13.04Los Angeles 19.31 19.31 20.25 20.25 12.74 12.74Chicago 19.19 19.19 16.85 16.85 11.79 11.75San Francisco 19.74 19.74 19.12 19.12 12.43 12.43Philadelphia 18.19 18.19 14.64 14.64 11.44 11.44Detroit 18.30 18.30 15.00 15.00 10.48 10.52Boston 18.59 18.59 17.69 17.69 11.85 11.93Houston 19.10 19.10 16.11 16.11 10.82 10.82Dallas 18.86 19.09 16.61 16.61 10.63 10.84Washington D.C. 19.04 19.04 16.78 16.78 11.34 11.34BRM Index 18.95 18.98 17.14 17.14 11.66 11.69

The Bank Rate Monitor Index is the average of rates being charged by the 100 largest banks and thrifts in the nation's 10 largest markets on the dates indicated. Other rates quoted are the lowest and highest offered at the same institutions. Auto loan rates are for a $9,000, 48-month, new-car loan with a 20 percent down payment. Personal loan rates are for a $3,000 unsecured personal loan with a 24-month term. Credit card rates are fixed rates only and do not take into account differing annual fees or grace periods.

SOURCE: @ Bank Rate Monitor, North Palm Beach, 33408 All inquiries: (407) 627-7330

Auto, personal and credit card ratesLOWEST PERSONAL LOAN RATES 8/6/91Beneficial Svgs Bk, Philadelphia 12.49%Continental Bank, Philadelphia 12.50Commonwealth Fed S&L, Philadelphia 14.00

HIGHEST PERSONAL LOAN RATESFirst Interstate Bank, Los Angeles 21.50%Bank of America, San Francisco 21.25Manufacturers Hanover, New York 19.80

LOWEST AUTO LOAN RATESFirst of America Bk, Detroit 9.25%Texas Commerce Bank, Houston 10.20Comerica, Detroit 10.25

HIGHEST AUTO LOAN RATESManufacturers Hnvr, N.Y. 15.50%Citibank, N.Y. 15.40Chase Manhattan Bank, N.Y. 14.90

LOWEST CREDIT CARD RATESEastern Bank, Boston 16.75%Germantown Svgs Bank, Philadelphia 16.80Bay Bank, Boston 17.46

HIGHEST CREDIT CARD RATESWorld S&L, San Francisco 20.90%Homestead Savings, San Francisco 20.90Citibank, Washington 19.80

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