Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Industry notes: Banking

More see planning as vital

        More U.S. consumers place greater significance on financial planning today than previously, mainly because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a new survey suggests.

        About 55 percent of Americans consider financial planning to be more important to them personally now than a year ago, according to a recent survey backed by the Consumer Federation of America and the Financial Planning Association.

        Moreover, more than 50 percent of Americans feel that, because of the terrorist attacks, it's more important to have a financial plan.

        Stephen Brobeck, CFA executive director, said financial planning is so important because people who plan accumulate less consumer debt and more savings than those who don't. He said Sept. 11 has made Americans more financially prudent.

        In addition, the survey also showed that young adults and African-Americans were the two groups most likely to think that financial planning had become more important to them personally.

        The survey of 1,007 people, conducted in March by Opinion Research Corp., had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

        The findings also illustrate why U.S. banks, including those with Tristate operations, have been placing more emphasis on offering consumer-investment and financial-planning advice recently.

        For example, financial consultants from Firstar and U.S. Bank last month set up visits with more than 35,000 of customers to discuss investment and insurance options. Other Tristate banks that have boosted their efforts in that area include Fifth Third, Provident, PNC, Bank One, Key and Huntington.

Moody's mulls upgrade for Firstar parent

       The credit ratings for the parent of Firstar Bank might possibly be upgraded, depending on its future performance.

        In addition, another firm affirmed its ratings for the parent of PNC Bank, which operates 49 branches locally.

        Moody's Investors Service said it's considering upgrading long-term credit ratings for U.S. Bancorp after its merger with Firstar Corp., which operates about 100 Tristate branches.

        The rating company said it's reviewing U.S. Bancorp's profitability prospects. The review comes after U.S. Bancorp's fourth-quarter earnings dropped 9.5 percent after costs rose for acquisitions and to cover bad loans. Moody's also said it considers trends in the banking company's asset quality.

        Standards & Poor's affirmed Monday its single-"A'-minus/stable/ rating on PNC Financial Services Group, following the bank's disclosure in regulatory filings that its lead bank, PNC, now requires regulators' OK to upstream dividends to the parent.

        It also expects PNC Bank to rapidly collect sufficient earnings and rebuild retained profits so that its regulatory restriction should be lifted shortly.

National Bank, Trust increases its dividend

        The parent of the National Bank and Trust Co. has increased its quarterly dividend by 9.5 percent.

        NB&T Financial Group Inc. of Wilmington, Ohio, has declared a dividend of 23 cents payable April 25 to shareholders of record March 31. National Bank and Trust, with assets of $680 million, operates 21 branches, as well as NB&T Insurance Agency Inc., in nine Ohio counties including Clinton, Clermont and Warren.

        Contact Jeff McKinney at 768-8499; fax 564-6991; or e-mail



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