Southwest Bank Calls Review

Southwest Bank of Texas has issued a request for proposal for its estimated $2-4 million advertising account.

The Houston-based institution, which operates 26 branches, bills itself as the largest independent bank in the area.

Sachnowitz & Co. in Houston is the incumbent agency, although other local shops have worked with the client on a project basis. According to sources, S&C has been invited by Southwest Bank of Texas to participate in the review. Agency president Larry Sachnowitz could not be reached for comment.

Client vice president of marketing Alex Calicchia, formerly with Bank United, is managing the review, but was also unavailable to comment at press time last week.

Several Houston agencies confirmed receiving the company’s questionnaire. Proposals are due back the first week in October.

“They’re trying to become a much stronger retail bank . . . previously they’ve been seen as a strong commercial bank,” said one agency head.

The financial institution provides a range of commercial, private, retail and mortgage banking services to individuals and small and midsize businesses.

Southwest Bank of Texas was founded in 1990 as Northwest Crossing National Bank by a group of Houston businessmen. The bank has assets of nearly $3 billion (as of March 2000) and is traded on the Nasdaq exchange. It acquired Fort Bend Federal Savings and Loan last year, adding six branches and Mitchell Mortgage Company as a subsidiary.

Southwest Bank of Texas has developed a market positioning strongly oriented around its grass-roots development and attention to smaller clientele. According to Hoovers Online, each branch appoints selected customers to a business development board that assists in tailoring services to better meet consumer needs.

The company’s current logo includes the tagline, “There’s no other bank like us!”

Southwest’s advertising ramp up comes on the heels of another Houston bank’s decision to relinquish its independence. Bank United in August said that it had agreed to be acquired by Seattle-based Washington Mutual.

Fogarty Klein Monroe in Houston handles advertising for Bank United. Officials there said they have not been informed how the acquisition will affect them.