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Red Carpet Service For the Worried

With consumers nervous about their financial health, banks such as Wells Fargo and Citizens Bank see this need as an opportunity. Wells Fargo is making licensed brokers available to customers to discuss risk, assets and investment strategies. The bank's goal is to reach customers who aren't high-net-worth, but still have a mix of products across a number of institutions: deposits, loans, retirement plans, mutual funds and education financing.

"We want to work on all sides of the balance sheet," said Lincoln Yersin, EVP of Wells Fargo's wealth management group in San Francisco.

The bank has deployed more than 900 financial consultants, or full-service advisers, across its branch network. It's also staffed about 1,200 bankers with Series 7 licenses, as well as 400 wealth planners who operate outside of Wells' high-net-worth private bank.

Tellers and customer service staff are trained to spot certain questions that a customer may ask, and to refer the customer to the proper consultant or licensed banker on site. A profiling process follows, including an offer of the solutions the bank can provide.

Citizens Bank is offering a "Fit Checkup," a one-on-one consultation at branches with a banker to help consumers select products based on individual needs, so that "they can then tailor a financial picture to fit their needs," said Theresa McLaughlin, chief marketing officer for Citizens Bank and Charter One Bank in Boston. McLaughlin says the bank has done more than 400,000 checkups at 500 branches since the program began six months ago.

Both banks' programs are not aimed at a specific demographic or age group but, rather, to provide broader customer service and financial intelligence.

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