UJB Using FiSi Program To Woo Mature Customers

UJB Financial Corp. this week became the second large bank in the Northeast to launch a marketing program for people 50 and older.

If the effort bears a striking resemblance to one rolled out by Chase Manhattan Corp. earlier this month, it could be because both banks are using the same vendor, FiSi-Madison Financial of Nashville.

Chase and UJB, which is based in Princeton, N.J., are two of 1,200 banks and thrifts to purchase similar programs from FiSi, which developed its concept of marketing to the mature in 1981. Other large institutions taking part include Meridian Bancorp., Reading, Pa., and California Federal Bank, Los Angeles, according to Mary Bruckner, FiSi's vice president of marketing.

UJB, which has $13 billion in assets and whose units are known as United Jersey banks, hopes the program will lead to higher average balances.

Aiming High

"We want to establish ourselves as the preeminent bank in this market," said Lenore Smith, UJB's senior vice president of corporate marketing.

The program is two-tiered.

The first level, United Jersey Preferred 50, requires a $100 deposit balance; there's no monthly charge. Features include overdraft protection and no-fee ATM service.

The second tier, Preferred Gold 50, requires a $4-a-month membership fee; there is no minimum balance. Free checks, insurance, hotel discounts, and credit card protection are among the features.

UJB said older consumers tend to maintain higher balances and possess larger cash assets. The $100 minimum deposit is designed to attract new customers. "The average balances are high enough to make it worthwhile," Ms. Smith said.

Michael P. Sullivan, a consultant based in Charlotte, N.C., said such programs use nonfinancial attractions to encourage relationship banking. Mr. Sullivan is coauthor of a book about banking services for the mature.

A Popular Advertisement

UJB is offering a $1,000 discount coupon from Norwegian Cruise Lines to customers who deposit $5,000 in a new certificate of deposit when joining the mature market program. The company's customer service center received 1,000 calls the day after the ad appeared, Ms. Smith said.

The trick to making the program work, Mr. Sullivan said, is effective cross-selling. "You have to get new dollars or this doesn't make any sense."

Ms. Bruckner of FiSi said programs that market to the mature encourage existing customers to consolidate more funds at their bank -- 10% more, on average -- and tend to enlarge the existing customer base by about 15%.

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