With rates at a low, adjustable CDs emerge
The toughest thing about selling long-term certificates of deposit is customers' unwillingness to tie up money if they sense that interest rates will rise. That wasn't much of a problem a decade ago, when rates were 20 percent and headed down fast.
And it wasn't even a problem for the banks in the last few years, as so many were trying to retrench. They didn't need the deposits because neither they nor their business customers were in the mood to make loans.
But with long-term rates at their lowest point in 20 years, banks eager to make loans are having trouble attracting long-term deposits.
That's why two Baltimore banks have started offering what are essentially adjustable CDs. The Bank of Baltimore in January started selling what it calls the "Up & Up" (known internally as the "double-bump"), an 18-month CD that allows the customer two opportunities to adjust to current rates.
Mercantile-Safe Deposit & Trust Co. last week responded with its "Step-Up CD," a five-year certificate with one adjustment option. "We felt that it might be an appropriate product to offer at this time because people are looking for yield," said Jay Cromwell, a vice president for marketing.
C.W. Amos & Co. buys Va. consulting firm
Accounting and auditing are fine professions. But everybody knows the real money is in consulting.
If so, that would explain why Baltimore accounting firm C.W. Amos & Co. last week announced the purchase of Richmond-based Technical Associates Inc. for undisclosed terms. The Virginia firm provides economic, financial, demographic and engineering analysis and consulting for clients nationwide.
"This acquisition represents an expansion of our consulting practice and further enhances our dominant position in our marketplace," said Terry Musika, the partner who heads C.W. Amos' management advisory services.
Amos is the largest independent accounting firm in Baltimore and Washington. It has offices in Virginia and has worked with the 23-year-old Technical Associates on projects but until now had no presence in Richmond.
The company plans to turn the Richmond office into a full-service branch of C.W. Amos, providing such services as accounting and auditing, tax, bankruptcy, litigation and general business consulting.
Head of Chapman Co.a local TV presence
Nathan Chapman has taken to the airwaves.
The chairman of the Baltimore-based Chapman Co. investment firm appears three times a week on WMAR-TV Channel 2's morning show, offering investment advice and taking phone calls.
A few weeks ago, Mr. Chapman began airing commercials to complement his appearances. "One goal is to increase our retail business, and we wanted to take a higher level of visibility," he said.
The ads are running only in Baltimore, but if they do well, the company might expand them to other cities where it has offices. Those include Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Mo., and Birmingham, Ala. (The Los Angeles office has closed, but Mr. Chapman is looking for someone to open a branch in Sacramento).
With 10 retail and three institutional brokers, the company is starting a nationwide expansion campaign, according to retail sales manager Sabrina Warren.
Legg Mason veteran leaves for Prudential
Dick Compisi, a nine-year veteran of Legg Mason Inc. and head of retail sales for the company's flagship downtown office, has left for greener pastures -- McLean, Va., to be specific. One of the more highly regarded executives at the company, Mr. Compisi left to manage Prudential Securities Inc.'s office in McLean. No word yet on a replacement.
Meanwhile, Legg has hired Mike Flynn from Frank D. Russell & Co. in Seattle to create an asset allocation division, the area in which he specialized in Seattle. Mr. Flynn will be dealing with individual and institutional clients, helping them decide when and how heavily to be invested in different asset classes.
Finally, Milton J. Bailey, who left the District of Columbia government in 1991 to work in Legg's public finance group, left this week to become deputy director of the district's Department of Housing and Community Development.
USF&G wag returns, satirical barbs intact
The Underground Helmsman is back!
About two years ago, an unknown scribe at USF&G Corp. began publishing a newsletter that served up gossip, rumor and vicious humor in a tirade against the perceived injustices of the company's leaders, making fun of Chairman Norman P. Blake's penchant for sports analogies.
One example, parodying a management memo: "After we appoint the next task force, to determine which of the current task forces' suggestions to implement, and then the following task force to implement those suggestions of the task force determining which of the current task forces' suggestions to implement, we'll at long last be ready to burn some rubber and hit a jump shot."
The Helmsman disappeared a year ago after Mr. Blake . . . ahem . . . expressed his dissatisfaction. But with the latest restructurings and layoffs, the pseudonymous editor, "Frank," has returned with some new issues.