<p>This year the focus for the competition is targeting specific markets. From the elderly to the very wealthy here is a glimpse at what niche they are trying to reach: Wells Fargo Bank is now catering to the elderly with its Elder Services unit first launched in Minneapolis. A second unit will be opened in Las Vegas, Scottsdale, Arizona or Southern California by the end of this year. The unit covers 24-hour, seven-days-a-week handling of all kinds of financial, social and medical issues including writing checks and balancing checkbooks; paying bills and insurance premiums; coordinating medical appointments and medications; and arranging and paying for FICA and workers. In addition the 1.75% of managed asset fee covers estate-planning, tax-planning and assets management tasks. The unit’s brochure boasts that at Wells Fargo “elder care is a core competence not an afterthought.” Bank of America is spending $40 million in advertising to Mexican immigrants. With an ad campaign built around the slogan “Creemos en ti” Spanish for “We believe in you”, plans are also underway to roll out the SafeSend program which allows customers to transfer funds from a special account to Mexico via telephone, the Internet and ATM. Account holders can “load” the accounts with up to $500 per transfer, and up to a $1,000 maximum every 30 days. Citibank is targeting teens with the launch of its prepaid Citi Cash Card. Teens can load funds onto the MasterCard-branded card on a special Web site created by Citibank. The card has a $25 annual fee and teens can load from $10 to $1,000 on the card. Students 13-15 years old need an adult to apply for the card and load money onto it. The Student Loan Corporation, a Citibank subsidiary, now offers its education loan customers Pay Online, a convenient and easy way to make payments. As the latest addition to www.studentloan.com, customers have the flexibility to schedule and/or submit payments at any time from any personal computer with Internet access. Customers maintain full control of the Pay Online process by designating the amount they want to pay, determining the date their payments will begin processing, and specifying which of their accounts to debit. The site also includes a personalized college planner, information on education financing options, online applications and online account access. Allfirst Bank has launched its first donor-advised fund, which will let investors contribute cash or appreciated securities to any public charity in the United States. The Allfirst Charitable Gift Fund requires a minimum investment of $10,000 by individuals and $100,000 by corporations. State Street Corporation is looking to target more wealthy customers. Aimed at individuals and families with more than $50 million in assets under management the Office of the Family Advisor will offer integrated financial planning, investment management and trust and custody service. Student Loan Finance Corporation has filed an application with the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions to open First Education Bank. If approved the bank would be up and running by this summer. The company hopes the bank deposits will provide lower-cost funds for loans. Bank One has created a customer rewards program called Individual Rewards to recognize new and current customers with Home Depot gift dollars for each new checking, savings, home equity, mortgage or credit card account. Now through June 30, customers will be rewarded with up to $200 in Home Depot gift dollars for opening a combination of qualifying accounts at Bank One, such as a home equity, mortgage, and checking account. Each new qualifying account is worth up to $50. Additionally, customers who have been doing business with Bank One for at least a year will earn an additional $20 in gift dollars for each new qualifying account. Business customers can also earn Home Depot gift dollars for establishing new accounts such as a business line of credit, installment loan and/or business savings or business investment account. American Express has upped the ante and perks for its Centurion or “Black” card for high rollers. The annual fee is now $2,500 but AmEx has also added eight new travel and retail programs. The Centurion is offered by invitation only to high net worth cardholders who generally charge more than $100,000 per year to the card. Some of the Centurion perks include a personal travel counselor and concierge; complimentary international cellular phones while traveling; Hot Plates dining program, whereby cardholders can make reservations at some of the more sought after restaurants in NY, San Francisco, and Los Angeles; Quick Getaways, which provides cardholders with great offers for fast getaways from the Bahamas to mini-adventures such as white water rafting on the Colorado River or a private jet charter program; and a complimentary two-hour consultation with Provident Financial Management, a subsidiary of American Express Tax and Business Services, which specializes in planning for high-net-worth individuals. [email protected]</p>

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