Magazine article American Banker

1st Chicago Hits the Phones in Drive to Retain CD Funds

Magazine article American Banker

1st Chicago Hits the Phones in Drive to Retain CD Funds

Article excerpt

While many banks are spending big bucks to advertise their investment products as alternatives to low-yield CDs, First National Bank of Chicago has taken a different approach.

In April, the First Chicago Corp. unit ran a "phonathon" in which bankers tried their hands at telemarketing.

Each evening for two weeks, participating branch officers took to the phones, talking to customers whose certificates of deposit were about to mature.

If a customer was about to take the money elsewhere, the callers made a simple suggestion: First come in and talk to one of First Chicago's licensed investment professionals about alternatives to low-rate CDs.

$25 per Appointment

What did the bankers get for their trouble? Twenty-five dollars for each appointment they scheduled and for which the customer showed.

Approximately 175 bankers participated in the phonathan, reaching an estimated 3,000 First Chicago CD clients, said Karl P. Keller, a vice president in the bank's community banking group.

Some 550 appointments wih the bank's investment advisers were scheduled, while approximately 400 were kept, he said.

"Many of the bankers who did it found it to be pleasurable and we'll benefit from that down the road," Mr. Keller said. "That's a real, hidden benefit."

The bankers, he explained, are now more likely to call their clients in the future.

Mr. Keller - who oversees First Chicago's retail mutual funds and annuities business - said he came up with the phonathan idea to help his institution cope with the industrywide flight of CDs.

In today's low-rate environment, fewer customers are rolling over their CDs when they mature, opting instead for noninsured, higher-yield investment products. …

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