Magazine article American Banker

Meridian's Fund, Annuity Program Reaching Wide Range of Investors

Magazine article American Banker

Meridian's Fund, Annuity Program Reaching Wide Range of Investors

Article excerpt

Blue collar workers and Amish investors are supplying steam for Meridian Bancorp's new mutual fund and annuity sales effort.

Indeed, the bank's investment product program is successfully wending its way through Pennsylvania Dutch country, steel towns, and urban centers.

About $80 million of investment products have been sold under the fledgling program during the last six months, according to Richard D. Munoz, product manager of the Reading, Pa., bank's retail investment-product division.

Of that amount, about $20 million was placed with Meridian's own family of Conestoga mutual funds,

Low Rates Spurred Program

Meridian had - literally - a billion reasons for entering the investment product business last spring, Mr. Munoz said. That's how many certificate of deposit dollars were coming due over a three-month period.

"We needed alternatives because rates were so low," Mr. Munoz said.

Not wanting to use its own brokerage and sales staff, Meridian chose Independent Financial Marketing Group to supply these services.

The White Plains, N.Y., company hired 40 sales representatives and held training classes for nearly 900 branch employees.

"We wanted everyone to be familiar with the program," said Independent Financial managing director Rod Halvorson.

After winning over the in-house audience, independent Financial set about convincing customers to consider investment products.

Conservative Investors

Meridian's customer base includcs hundreds of Amish residents who often pull up to branches in horse drawn carriages and who are not known as risk takers. …

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