New blog post—An opportunity named Santander

Changing a financial institution's name is a very delicate exercise as many in the credit union world can attest.  The institution must keep the existing customer base loyal while creating excitement and energy around the new identity in the hope of attracting new business.  The biggest risk is the possibility that current customers or members will think that their institution has been acquired and that they will have to deal with big changes in fees, rules, and perhaps accessibility.

Given Sovereign’s history they are particularly at risk in this regard.  The bank’s U.S. operations are limited to eight states in the Northeast.  It was originally chartered in Pennsylvania in 1902 and it took on the name Sovereign in 1986.  The bank came to New England in 2000 when it acquired 285 branches in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire that Fleet Bank shed in order to complete its acquisition of the faltering Bank of Boston.  The end result being that a large number of consumers found that they were suddenly doing business with a regional bank from Pennsylvania that previously had no presence in the area.  In 2004 the remainder of Fleets customer base ended up at Bank of America when Fleet ceased to be.

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