Three years after it started offering trust services, a Connecticut thrift wants to make sure its customers know it is in the business.

State regulators have approved the request by People's Savings Bank of New Britain, a subsidiary of People's Savings Financial Corp., to change its name to Peoples Savings Bank and Trust.

"It's growing and it's becoming a major part of the bank," said John G. Medvec, executive vice president of People's Savings Bank. "A lot of the people hear People's Savings Bank and don't realize we have a trust department. Now, they will."

John Carusone, president of Bank Analysis Center in Hartford, Conn., said the name change is significant because it shows that People's Savings, despite its small size, is aspiring to be a legitimate competitor in Connecticut's $25 billion-asset personal and institutional trust industry.

"They're not going to get the mileage for what they're doing unless their image portrays their strategy," Mr. Carusone said. "Because of the consolidation sweepstakes in Connecticut, there have been a lot of trust customers who have been displaced."

Mr. Carusone said it's likely that People's Savings can pick up customers disgruntled by several of the mergers in the past two years. Among the deals involving trust assets: First Union Corp.'s purchase of First Fidelity Bancorp; Fleet Financial Group's acquisition of Shawmut National Corp.; and Bank of New York Co.'s takeover of Putnam Trust Co., Greenwich, Conn.

The $459 million-asset People's Savings started offering trust services in 1993 and expanded the operation a year later with its purchase of New Meriden Trust Co. from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Last year the thrift opened a trust office in Middletown. This year it expanded again, under an agreement to provide trust services with Glastonbury Bank and Trust Co.

Trust assets under management have increased from $212 million at yearend 1994 to the current $371 million.

Mr. Medvec said the thrift is ordering new signs and is also busy trying to market the trust department.

The plan, he said, is to continue to increase its trust business.

"We'd like to find other trust companies that are available or interested and purchase them," Mr. Medvec said.

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