Massachusetts community banks already have a third-party investment advisory vendor that the banks, as well as the Massachusetts Bankers Association, actually own and operate.
It’s called Infinex Financial Group, and now it’s expanding beyond investment products to offer broader wealth management services.
“From our point of view, the fact that Infinex is owned and operated by community banks and the Association is an ideal situation,” says MBA President Daniel J. Forte. “It means that everyone is pulling on the same oar to make this company grow in the right direction to serve our member banks.
“Massachusetts and Connecticut historically have generated half of Infinex’s business, but as the company continues to grow, that percentage will be decreasing,” adds Forte. “We really tried to create a model that was adaptable within a wide marketing reach, so we now have relationships with bank associations in Florida, Ohio and New Jersey and I think New York and Alabama are ready to come on board.”
Created in 1993 by community banks in Connecticut, Infinex was originally organized to enable banks to provide their customers with a full array of brokerage services and insurance products.
These products include, on the brokerage side, mutual funds, individual stocks, corporate and municipal bonds, investment trusts and Treasury securities. On the insurance side, the products offered include fixed and variable annuities, term and permanent life insurance, disability and long-term care insurance.
The unique feature of Infinex, what makes it different from its competitors, is that it has developed programs aimed specifically at community banks and their customers. In fact, community banks are the firm’s only clients.
Recognizing the increasing need for overall investment planning, Infinex recently added a third arrow to its quiver, investment advisory and financial planning, which offers several managed account programs through Lockwood Advisors, one of the nation’s leading money management firms.
According to Infinex President Stephen P. Amarante, “For bank clients who need help in planning their financial needs, we provide an array of customized financial planning services. They can be tailored to a client’s overall financial objectives or to meet a client’s specific goal such as funding a child’s college education.
“We also provide our customers with access to several leading money management firms and can assist clients in all facets of money management strategy.”
The MBA’s Forte points out a couple of notable competitive differences for Infinex.
“There are two important distinctions between other financial advisors,” he says. “One, Infinex is owned and operated by the community banks and, two, if there’s an issue that comes up, clients not only have Infinex to try to resolve the issue, they also have the Association to come to. I think that provides an additional value added as the business expands. It has been a great program.”