Magazine article American Banker

Fleet Puts All Its Brokerages in One Basket

Magazine article American Banker

Fleet Puts All Its Brokerages in One Basket

Article excerpt

FleetBoston Financial said it will consolidate its four brokerages this summer and install software to let brokers give more personalized service to targeted investors -- the so-called near rich. About 220 brokers who work for other FleetBoston units will be added to the 550 at its Quick & Reilly unit in August and September, said Paul Saita, head of national sales at Quick & Reilly. The brokers are being trained to use software developed by Siebel Systems of San Mateo, Calif., that will enable them to access detailed data on clients' trading histories instantly, helping them respond to specific needs. The consolidation will close "one of the last great areas (Fleet) had to fix," said Katrina Blecher, an analyst at Brown Brothers Harriman in New York. Until now, the firm's brokerages had different management styles, and cross-selling efforts were "not impressive," Ms. Blecher said. The consolidation will also help to reduce overhead costs, she said. Brown Brothers currently has a "short-term buy" position on FleetBoston stock. The steps are key to FleetBoston's strategy of targeting the near-rich -- a growing group of investors whose net worth has been considered too small to qualify for private client treatment. Thomas Quick, president and chief operating officer, has said access to the research and expertise of FleetBoston's Private Client Group would prevent clients from moving to firms that offer either deeper discounts on trades or more-comprehensive investment advice. Quick generally targets people with $100,000 or more in investable assets, but it is looking to lower that threshold to capture others whose assets are likely to grow. At present, the average Quick investor has $200,000 in investable assets, makes $81,000 per year, and is 53 years old. In early August, Quick & Reilly will begin integrating FleetBoston's other brokers into its own sales force, a process it expects to complete by early September, said Mr. …

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