WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Sweltering summer days are not slowing down the competition one bit. From new partnerships to offering round-the-clock banking the competition is making the most of the summertime. Here is a glimpse at what they have lined up: * American Express has launched the American Express One Financial Account, an “all- in-one” account which combines investment services with banking and an Amex Gold card. The account competes with similar brokerage-based offerings from Merrill Lynch, Charles Schwab and Morgan Stanley. Features of the Amex One account include unlimited check-writing with overdraft protection; a fee-free Amex Gold card for customers with over $25,000 in assets which offers membership rewards points; brokerage services including share-trading, equity research and margin lending; an FDIC-insured sweep account; an ATM/debit card; a best-price guarantee on Amex mortgages; online access; and consolidated monthly statements. Customers can opt to receive personalized financial advice from an Amex advisor. In addition, AmEx has launched a prepaid gas card called the “Fill It Up Card” available in pre-denominated amounts and can be customized with a logo. * Woodforest National Bank in Houston is offering its customers round-the-clock banking at three of its 66 branches located in Wal-Mart Super center stores. There are no cut-off times for deposits and offers 24/7 Western Union Money Transfer services. An estimated 15% of business is conducted outside the standard hours of 9-5. Woodforest National Bank says it does 15% of its business outside normal nine-to-five business hours. * ShoreBank Pacific in Ilwaco, Washington is building an advertising campaign around being an “eco-bank” and pride in being “green”. The commercial bank focuses on building economic relationships that maintain ecological integrity, while fostering businesses and jobs. * Northern Lakes Marketing, the Twin Cities-based community bank marketing and advertising firm, is giving small banks a leg up on the competition. The firm has unveiled fmFusion, a new service soon designed to help small banks and run big marketing campaigns via compact disks that contain materials for entire marketing campaigns. Currently available are CDs for campaigns to promote Internet banking, home equity loans, general loans, and certificates of deposit. Additional campaigns are being developed and a new CD will be made available every month. Future campaigns will feature mortgage services, agricultural services and commitment to community. Purchasers will be given market exclusivity so they don’t run the risk of using the same marketing materials as a competing bank. Prices range from under $1,000 to about $1,900, depending on the components purchased. * Citizens First State Bank is revamping its senior’s club. The Heritage Club ties several banking privileges with social and travel opportunities. In addition to potlucks, seminars and day trips to area attractions club members are given opportunities to take part in domestic and international excursions every year. Heritage Club members have traveled to Australia, Canada, Switzerland, England, Greece, Austria, Alaska and Maine. Club members pay their own way but the club offers affordable rates and all the conveniences of a fully organized tour experience. In addition, Heritage Clubs and its partner, Minneapolis-based NFR Communications, have created a magazine called Onward aimed at community banks’ elderly customers. The goal is to have editorial content that will appeal to members of seniors clubs and to those who will be eligible for those clubs before long. A twin goal is for that editorial mix to win advertisers from outside the financial services sector. Onward has regular columns and features on finance but also has articles on health, fitness, and travel. * MasterCard has launched the “Clear” card, a new payroll card that offers a credit line based on annual salary. The “Clear” MasterCard also enables employees to make purchases and have the payments drawn directly from future paychecks over the next two months, interest-free. Designed by E-duction, the program establishes a credit line equal to 2.5% of the employee’s annual salary and charges an annual fee of $29 to each participating employee. So far Capital One has plans to offer the new card. * Wachovia Corporation is rebranding its investment banking and securities businesses. The campaign will first target executives of growing companies nationwide and will then roll out the same campaign to its retail brokerage and investment management customers. The rebranding concept revolves around the tagline “Uncommon Wisdom for Shared Success” and positions Wachovia as a customer resource. * Wells Fargo has launched its Retirement Plan Payments, which allows participants and administrators access to records and payment information online. * Bank of America has launched a new campaign, created in partnership with the National Consumers League to help educate consumers about identity theft. Included in the campaign, dubbed “Invasion of the ID Snatchers,” are public service announcements, a Web site with tips for avoiding identity theft, and a variety of other materials consumers can use to protect their privacy on the Internet and elsewhere. The new Web site includes tips for consumers on preventing and recovering from identity theft, as well as an overview of common scenarios for how thieves steal personal information and what they’re able to do with it. [email protected]

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