Magazine article American Banker

Associates to Put Its Mark on 77 Former Fleet Branches

Magazine article American Banker

Associates to Put Its Mark on 77 Former Fleet Branches

Article excerpt

Now that Associates First Capital Corp., Dallas, has completed its purchase of all 77 Fleet Finance branches, the real work can begin, company executives say.

The major task, as they see it, will be to convert the culture of the branches to Associates' highly personal style of doing business. They say the cultural change will help the offices do more business.

"Associates' culture is very face to face, and it's a culture that's very concerned with cost," said Lehman Brothers analyst Michael Millman.

Associates First, which is 81% owned by Ford Motor Co., makes consumer loans -including personal, home equity, and credit card - through its sprawling branch network.

The company's purchase of Fleet Finance's offices, most of which are in the Southeast, provides a way for Associates to fill in gaps in its branch coverage, executives say.

The Fleet Finance branches had been on the block for more than a year. They offered similar products to Associates' and feature almost identical customer profiles, analysts say.

In Associates hands-on, high-touch, cost-controlling style, branch employees will handle all business functions, including finding customers and servicing loans. Previously, Fleet Finance's Atlanta-based customer service center would deal with borrower questions and hound late-paying customers.

Associates sends experienced employees to a newly acquired branch for about a week to teach the branch how it does business.

Former Fleet Finance branches will be split between Associates' First Family division and Associates Financial Services. …

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