Magazine article American Banker

Citi Targets the Middle Class with Automatic Savings Plan

Magazine article American Banker

Citi Targets the Middle Class with Automatic Savings Plan

Article excerpt

By LIZ MOYER As part of a broad campaign to attract more middle-income customers, Citigroup said Thursday that it would offer a new automatic savings feature for its checking accounts.

AutoSave users will be able to electronically transfer a designated sum into a separate Citi savings or investment account on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis.

There will be no extra charge for AutoSave, the bank said.

"We want the neglected middle-income consumers to think of Citi as their champion," said Joseph J. Plumeri 2d, Citi's head of North American retail banking. "We want to change the paradigm of banking."

Citigroup also said it would reduce the monthly fee for its EZ Checking product to $7.50 across its 435-branch domestic network. Right now, fees for those account holders who do not maintain a $1,500 minimum balance range from $9.50 a month in New York to $25 in California.

The bank also plans to offer free financial needs analyses to customers beginning this spring, Mr. Plumeri said. Citi wants "to become the instruction book" for the average American, he added.

Mr. Plumeri, who is also head of Citigroup's Atlanta-based Primerica Financial Services unit, said he wants Citi branch staffers to adopt the same sales-oriented attitude that Primerica sales representatives have.

Over the next six months, about 3,000 branch employees are to be trained and licensed to perform financial analyses of customers and to sell sophisticated investment and insurance products. …

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