Jed Clampett Would Be Pleased: By Planning Exclusive Events and Special Recognition for Wealth Management Customers, Banks Can Voice Their Thanks as Well as Facilitate Valuable Word-of-Mouth Referrals. Here's a Sample of Appreciation Programs at Three Different Financial Institutions

By Sablosky, Tanja Lian | ABA Bank Marketing, March 2005 | Go to article overview

Jed Clampett Would Be Pleased: By Planning Exclusive Events and Special Recognition for Wealth Management Customers, Banks Can Voice Their Thanks as Well as Facilitate Valuable Word-of-Mouth Referrals. Here's a Sample of Appreciation Programs at Three Different Financial Institutions


Sablosky, Tanja Lian, ABA Bank Marketing


Tank you wealth management customers. We love you!

Most banks are too dignified to come out say things like that. But almost all financial services institutions express their appreciation to their best customers--those well-heeled people whose financial activities result in a disproportionate high contribution to the bank's bottom line.

Not surprisingly, banks have discovered that structured appreciation programs are smart business. Not only are these efforts a thoughtful way of saying "thanks," but an effective program can stimulate referrals that grow more income.

The scope and depth of efforts vary from institution to institution. We present here profiles of three programs run by banks in different parts of the country. Listed are samples of some of the special trips, events and gifts and other things that these banks provide to their most esteemed customers.

Put Me on the Waiting List

First National Bank & Trust (FNBT), Stuart, Fla.

Being a part of a select travel group has a great deal of appeal to the private banking clients of FNBT. In fact, the cachet of going with the Bank's Passport Elite program to Costa Rica generated so much interest that some clients had to be put on a waiting list. "Many of our clients are so satisfied with our program that they encourage their friends to come along--which means their friends must bring their business to us to become a part of the program," says Tom Hall, senior vice president of private banking.

That's just the kind of word-of-mouth marketing that Hall is hoping for--the kind in which satisfied clients encourage friends, acquaintances and business associates to switch to the bank and to stay.

The Passport Elite program (deposits of over $1 million) and Passport program (deposits of over $300,000) have helped increase the number of private banking households from 600 to 1,000 over the past few years. The fourth-quarter results of 2004 showed deposits up 15 percent, financial services income up 8 percent, and loans up 5 percent.

"We use this event-based program as a marketing tool and a way to add value to our most profitable and potentially profitable client relationships," says Hall. By providing the very best in travel programs and accommodations, Hall wants his clients to recognize that the bank gives the same attention to detail to its financial services products and services.

When the program was launched originally more than 20 years ago, it was targeted more narrowly toward retired women. The events included :in annual holiday fashion show at a deluxe hotel, luncheons and trips.

About seven years ago, Tom Hall was hired to redesign the program. The bank had realized there was a much broader wealthy demographic (such as corporate real estate, commercial and small-business divisions) that also could be well served by an elite program, so Hall set to work. Now the program is designed to appeal to all ages, men and women, professionals and retired clients. The programs even reach out to families.

That's why, in recent years, the number of people participating in family weekends at Ritz-Carlton locations, charity fashion shows at The Breakers, and theater trips to New York have tripled, quadrupled and more.

"At one of the first travel functions we sponsored [about six years ago] there were 32 people--mostly retired--and a few young physicians. At first, the retired clients wondered why the younger people were along on the trip, and possibly wondered if they had the level of assets required to participate in the group," Hall recalls. "Six years later, that same annual outing draws 240 people, including 50 children, and the interaction is wonderful. There are grandparents and their children and grandchildren all dancing together during our evening dinner and dancing party. Everyone is a part of the action now. It's even evolved to the point where the expectation is that the event will be multigenerational. …

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