Cross Marketing Inc., a Peapack, N.J., firm that sells annuities and mutual funds to bank brokerage units, has begun offering new services to other bank departments.
James Fridl, the company's president, said over the past few months the company has begun distinguishing itself from competitors with services designed to be sold by lending officers.
Cross Marketing also is trying to build a separate business - helping bank executives supplement retirement benefits packages.
Mr. Fridl's move to differentiate the company's business comes at a time of increased competition for firms that provide investment product services to banks.
Cross Marketing promotes annuities and mutual funds to 110 banks, making it the 12th-largest firm in the third-party marketing industry, according to American Brokerage Consultants, St. Petersburg, Fla.
By serving departments other than a bank's brokerage unit, "we have a stronger relationship with the bank, and have much less of a chance of being displaced," Mr. Fridl said.
For lending officers, Mr. Fridl has begun marketing homeowners insurance as well as insurance licensing and sales training programs. Cross marketing also helps banks market mortgage and homeowners insurance business to prospective customers.
So far, Cross Marketing is experimenting with a pilot program in Wisconsin where the company has entered into an agreement with Insurance Service Center, a small homeowners insurance agency in Madison.
The agency also owns a school - of which Cross Marketing acquired a piece over the summer - to help license bank employees, Mr. Fridl said.
Now that it is promoting homeowner's insurance, Cross Marketing has begun training various retail bank employees identify prospects for the new product. For instance, Mr. Fridl encourages lending officers to tap corporate clients who may have hired new employees seeking homes near their bank.
Mr. Fridl said he has found other niche services underserved but needed by banks. For example, Cross Marketing is close to signing an agreement with a research firm that certifies homes for flood insurance.
Banks need to know if they've loaned money to homeowners who lack flood insurance because regulators don't let banks securitize loans without ascertaining the risks of those loans.
Mr. Fridl isn't stopping at the bank lending departments. He is trying to ingratiate himself to bank chief executive officers. Cross Marketing has recently begun helping top executives find retirement benefits beyond what they get from their banks.
For instance, 401(k) retirement plans cap the amount of pretax savings an employee can get. So, bank CEOs look for ways to increase the income they will receive, but need someone to do the research for them.
Mr. Fridl is trying to develop a company that provides many services that larger banks generally outsource to a variety of companies.
"It takes a long time for a chairman to get comfortable with a third- party marketing firm, why should he hire seven different firms for seven different products," he said.
Mr. Fridl may soon get to offer his new services to a host of thrifts. In July, Cross Marketing received the endorsement of America's Community Bankers, a trade organization representing about 1,800 savings banks and savings and loans.