In an effort to offer consolidated investing, Princeton, N.J.-based Summit Bancorp announced this week that it plans to combine its discount and full-service brokerage units.
After the reorganization, which is to be completed in the third quarter, Summit Discount Brokerage and Summit Financial Services Group would combine under the Summit Financial Services Group Inc. name, said James S. Little, executive vice president of the investment services group.
Jack Cussen, senior vice president and group manager of Summit Financial Services Group, has been tapped to head the new unit as chairman and chief executive officer.
Joseph J. McCaffrey, president and CEO of the discount unit, will continue as president. He will also take the title chief operating officer, Mr. Little said.
Commenting on the bank's strategy, Mr. Little said: "We're trying to make it easier for our customers to do business with us." He added: "Now, we have two brokerage operations, and it's confusing."
Summit Financial Services Group focuses on selling insurance and mutual fund products, with roughly 90 Series 7 registered representatives available to offer advice. The discount operation caters to "self-directed" investors who need less hand-holding, Mr. Little said.
Investors would still be able to opt either for advice or for a hands- off approach, said Mr. Little. However, it is hoped that the combination would reach investors who want something of each style, he added.
Summit's brokerage customers will start getting linked statements next month. Consolidated statements-which would track investors' stock, bond, and mutual fund investments and checking account balances in a single Summit Asset Management account-are in the works.
Mr. Little said the company wants to take more initiative in tapping its roughly 60,000 self-directed investors. Aside from pitching municipal bonds underwritten by the bank, Summit has never marketed services to that segment, he said.
"We think we can probably generate more business out of them, provide more service to them," said Mr. Little.
In its full-service brokerage, Summit's 90 registered representatives handle about 150 accounts each. The bank has immediate plans to hire 10 consultants and will eventually increase the ranks to 150, Mr. Little said.
Summit plans to consolidate its back-office investment units in Bethlehem, Pa.
The bank's full-service brokerage now clears transactions through BHC Securities Inc., Philadelphia. After the consolidation, clearing will be handled by an in-house unit that now clears for the discount brokerage division, Mr. Little said. About 15 jobs are to be created.