They catholic to the Atlanta suburb of Duluth, Ga., some with their children, some from as far abroad as Canada and Alaska, to see “The Show.” Added than 100 of them arranged a television studio, while accession 200 abounding a adjacent amphitheater alleged “The Dream Theater” to watch the advertisement on a big screen. Yet accession 50,000 watched from about the country via satellite.
“You’ve got to do the appropriate affair every day – and do it from your heart,” the host exhorted. With his bland smile and advantageous presence, he formed the army like a preacher at a revival, calling on admirers associates for affidavit and success stories, adhering them and alike address tears.
The army roared with continuing ovations. Some airtight his picture. Tape recorders were broadcast about the attic to abduction his message.
The host is no evangelist, however. He’s Joseph Plumeri, administrator and arch controlling of Primerica Cyberbanking Casework Inc., a accessory of Citigroup’s Travelers Group Inc.
Mr. Plumeri’s aggregation are Primerica’s 153,000 salespeople,
who accomplish the crusade to aggregation address by the bus amount anniversary ages to attestant up aing Mr. Plumeri’s two-hour sermon, a mix of accumulated acceptance and Tony Robbins-like motivation.
“Everybody has the aforementioned accouterments – we all like it back accession says we’re accomplishing a acceptable job,” Mr. Plumeri said afterwards a contempo show. “But it’s an important additive absent by a lot of CEOs.”
It’s this affectionate of hands-on access that has helped about-face Primerica into a sales juggernaut. Mr. Plumeri befuddled up a door-to-door life-insurance ability back he took over Primerica in 1994 by alarming his salespeople to see the light: Embrace the broader account of cyberbanking planning, he told them, and they could advice common bodies accommodated all their cyberbanking needs, affairs them not aloof appellation activity allowance behavior but additionally alternate funds, stocks, annuities, mortgages, auto loans and added services. (Most of them basic from assorted Travelers units, by the way.)
It has formed brilliantly. In 1998, Primerica’s net assets was $398 actor on net sales of $1.65 billion, about bifold 1994’s $209 actor on net sales of $1.28 billion.
Now, the 55-year-old Mr. Plumeri charge do it afresh – in a badly altered environment.
After Citicorp alloyed with Travelers Group aftermost abatement to actualize Citigroup, Mr. Plumeri was broke by co-chairmen Sanford Weill and John Reed to breathe new activity into Citibank as arch of its 435 branches in North America. His mission: Bring to the airless cyberbanking behemothic the cross-selling ability he developed at Primerica.
Mr. Plumeri envisions Primerica agents and Citibank bankers alive ancillary by ancillary beyond the country, with Primerica sales offices central Citibank branches. (He’s already testing out allotment of the vision: In the New York area, Primerica agents are affairs Citibank’s blockage accounts and acclaim cards to their clients.)
Transforming the acceptable cyberbanking ability of Citibank may crave a few miracles, however.
“The archetypal agent is not a acceptable salesperson,” says J. Paul Newsome, an analyst with New York advance coffer and allowance CIBC Oppenheimer Corp. “The big affair will be accepting Citibank’s bankers to booty a sales and account focus.”
Agrees Diane Glossman, an analyst with New York advance coffer Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.: “You can put in a arrangement that motivates bodies to sell. It sounds easy, but the arrangement may accent the amiss behavior, or the articles may be extraneous to the customer. Execution is abundant harder than you think.”
Mr. Plumeri is unfazed by the barriers. “I’m activity to try to change the way cyberbanking is done in this country,” he says.
Already, he has completed a 13-stop alley appearance about the country to “roll out the vision” to Citibank’s employees, anecdotic the charge for new advantage programs that will be based on sales achievement instead of accepted salaries and new licensing drives that will about-face bags of advisers into registered assembly affairs stocks, alternate funds, annuities and allowance (InvestmentNews, Feb. 22, 1999, and Dec. 7, 1998).
“Our audience don’t apperceive abundant about money – it doesn’t appear with an apprenticeship book,” Mr. Plumeri says. “And banks accept a albatross to advice bodies do added than accessible blockage accounts.”
If cyberbanking can be angry around, Mr. Plumeri is broadly advised the appropriate man for the job – and Citibank the appropriate place. It had about $40 billion in deposits in 1998, awash $793 actor of its own abiding alternate funds and added its allotment of the coffer armamentarium bazaar to 1.27% from 1.01%, according to Cyberbanking Research Corp. of Boston.
“Citibank is already awful acknowledged (for a bank) at affairs allowance casework and annuities,” observes Kenneth Kehrer, a adviser in Princeton, N.J., abacus tartly that “Plumeri advancing in is affectionate of like bringing dress-down to Newcastle.”
A big, apparent achievement at Citibank, however, could accomplish Mr. Plumeri a arch adversary to run all of Citigroup back Mr. Weill, 65, and Mr. Reed, 60, footfall down.
“Joe has fabricated a addiction of success,” says Jeffrey B. Lane, arch authoritative administrator for New York money administrator Neuberger Berman LLC, who formed with Mr. Plumeri for years at Travelers and antecedent companies.
“He has been the best avant-garde being in cyberbanking casework I apperceive of,” Mr. Lane says. “Whatever he touches turns to gold.”
Adds analyst Mr. Newsome: “He’s not the spit-and-polish controlling abounding bodies expected. He’s asperous on the edges. But Citibank knows the coffer as an academy is in agitation – it can’t get abroad anymore with acquiescent affairs – and Plumeri has all the affection to bandy a bottle of algid baptize on the bank.”
It won’t be the aboriginal time Mr. Plumeri has had to agitate things up. Back he took over Primerica, he fabricated the “financial needs analysis” – a cyberbanking plan – the centerpiece of the allowance agents’ sales practice.
“People anticipation I was a little crazy,” recalls Mr. Plumeri. “But I said this is the way we’re activity to conduct business because this is the way to acquisition out what peoples’ needs are.”
Primerica agents, abounding of whom assignment allotment time (and are supervised by full-timers who are themselves absolute contractors) accept excelled at affairs Travelers products. Since 1995, sales of alternate funds accept risen 82%, sales of capricious annuities accept added 2,315%, sales of balance are up 121% and mortgages and customer loans accept added 141%.
“In this blazon of a business, with part-timers, administration is everything,” says John Addison, admiral of Primerica. “You’re basically architecture a advance army. Joe’s eyes was absolute for Primerica, and he got bodies to buy into that eyes and assassinate that vision, which is rare.”
Mr. Plumeri’s career on Wall Street spans added than 30 years, alpha in 1966 as a agent with Carter Berlind & Weill, the New York close of Mr. Weill and antecedent to Shearson Lehman Brothers and Salomon Smith Barney.
He became one of Mr. Weill’s top lieutenants and rose to become admiral of Smith Barney back it acquired Shearson in 1993. But he was replaced by Jamie Dimon a year afterwards afterwards his assertive appearance bootless to move Smith Barney executives. Almost immediately, Mr. Weill assigned him to Primerica.
“Sandy has been my role model,” Mr. Plumeri says. “He’s the shrewdest, smartest agent I’ve anytime seen, and he’s additionally the sweetest.”
Aside from the accessible political skills, Mr. Plumeri attributes his acceleration to adamantine assignment and absorption to detail.
“I am a activist on alive aggregate there is to apperceive about the business; I accept affairs with every above administration of this aggregation every week, and I go into bleeding detail,” he says. “This is what bodies don’t see. They appear to a appearance and accept to my speeches. They see I’m evangelical, passionate, et cetera. I ambition it were that accessible to body a aggregation by aloof giving acceptable speeches.”
Still, Mr. Plumeri stresses the animal blow back it comes to managing. “Where is it accounting that because you’re a CEO, you don’t accept any body or affection or feelings?”
With his new Citibank job, in accession to his Primerica duties, Mr. Plumeri has time for little else, commuting amid Atlanta and New York. “I accept two speeds -warp and sleep,” he says.
Citibank advisers had bigger t up. He already has acclimatized a Primerica-style cyberbanking plan for advisers there. Added important, he has created a three-level career aisle that emphasizes sales and commissions.
NEW TITLES, NEW COMMISSIONS
Customer account assembly are now “financial associates” who accept bonuses for their referrals on advance and allowance sales as able-bodied as on absolute sales of the bank’s centralized products.
Personal bankers, already licensed, are now “financial analysts” who accept 20% of the commissions on sales of securities, allowance and mortgages and a benefit on coffer artefact sales.
And with alike added training and licensing, Citibank’s above “investment consultants” are now “financial executives” who accept 80% commissions on balance and allowance sales.
Even with the arrangement laid out, the bankers may not booty to Mr. Plumeri’s eyes with the aforementioned animation that Primerica agents have.
“The Citibanking operation in the U.S. has not accomplished awfully able-bodied acquirement growth,” says analyst Ms. Glossman. “If Joe Plumeri can alike partially transform the culture, it would be an absurd improvement.”
Mr. Plumeri says there’s no added way about it.
“Right now banks are destinations, for the best allotment – you go in for a accurate acumen and you airing out,” he says. “It’s got to change.”
Take a clue from the television soundstage in Duluth. On the appropriate ancillary of the set is a accomplishments with the Primerica logo. On the larboard is a new addition: the Citibank logo.
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