With their ATMs and mini-branches, banks have been setting up camp in an ever-growing number of gasoline stations, supermarkets and other paths of everyday life.
Now the tables are turning: Businesses are beginning to infiltrate bank territory.
The Automobile Club of Southern California recently set up shop in branches of two local banks, Broadway Federal Bank of Los Angeles at 4143 Crenshaw Blvd. and Founders National Bank at 4835 Venice Blvd.
In those branches, the Automobile Club has established Travel & Insurance Centers, stands staffed by two or three people where members can get information about insurance and travel products.
Banking analysts aren't exactly predicting that fruit stands will soon show up in bank branches, but the appearance of new retail services in the wide open field of banking is no surprise.
"The blurring of the lines continues between banking, insurance, retail, brokerage, investment management, etc." said Larry Vitale, a managing director of research at Bear Stearns & Co. Inc. "Sometimes we have things come through where we don't know whether it should be watched by a banking analyst, an insurance analyst or another kind of analyst."
This is the first time the Automobile Club has teamed up with a partner since its founding in 1900.
The club proposed the centers for Founders National and Broadway Federal partly because of its business history with them, said spokesman Jeffrey Spring. In 1993 it made a pledged deposit in Broadway and invested $500,000 in preferred stock in Founders.
As of now, Spring said, the club has no plans to establish centers in other banks or businesses.
Each bank has four branches, all located within the city of Los Angeles.
H. Scott Perry, the Founders Bank director of development, said the bank has had offers from other outfits to set up in its branches. But the savings and loan, which focuses on inner-city markets, said it accepted the proposal from the Automobile Club because it is "a company of high standards and brings a good opportunity for cross selling each others products."
He said the concept of "co-branding" has proven itself with banks entering retail operations, and now the concept is going the other direction.
The Automobile Club of Southern California is a mutual benefit, non-profit company and an affiliate of AAA.
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