September 21, 2011
Bank of America bolsters perks for bigger depositors, investors
By Rick Rothacker | McClatchy Newspapers
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Bank of America Corp. this week is rolling out extra perks for customers in nine states who do extensive banking and investment business with the Charlotte-based bank.
The Platinum Privileges program gives customers access to a specialized customer service center, preferred pricing on products such as retirement accounts, and other discounts and fee waivers. It's for clients who have $50,000 or more in deposits or investments with the bank.
After testing the program in Arizona, Georgia and Massachusetts, Bank of America is expanding it to nine other states this month: Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. Another expansion will occur in November; the nationwide rollout will be completed next year.
The program is part of an array of new bundled accounts the bank has been testing since the beginning of this year. The bank in some cases is adding monthly fees as it looks to recoup revenue lost under new financial regulations, but Platinum Privileges comes with no extra charge.
The program is meant as a reward for customers who do more business with the bank, said Dean Athanasia, Bank of America's preferred and small business banking executive.
"If you bring your relationship to us, we want to make sure we give you value back," said Athanasia, a Boston-based executive who joined the bank when it bought FleetBoston Financial in 2004.
The testing in the first three states showed customers brought more assets to the bank and purchased more products, Athanasia said. Customer satisfaction scores also climbed, he said.
Eligible customers will receive "welcome packets" in the mail as well as a call from the bank. Customers will also notice promotions in Bank of America branches, on its web site and in other publications.
Like other financial services firms, Bank of America is eager to attract affluent clients who keep bigger balances and have more complex banking needs. Athanasia leads the bank's "preferred" banking segment, which targets customers with $50,000 to $250,000 in investable assets. About 8 million of the bank's customers fit that category but not all of them keep enough assets at the bank to qualify for Platinum Privileges.
Bank of America is rolling out the new program amid a management shake-up that included the departure of consumer and small business banking head Joe Price.
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