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Tickers in this Article: RF, MTB, RJF
Regions Bank - the banking subsidiary of Regions Financial Corp. (RF) - recently announced an agreement with PrimeVest Financial Services. According to the agreement, registered broker-dealer and Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) firm PrimeVest, which operates under the Cetera Financial Group, will offer advisory and investment solutions besides providing comprehensive support to Regions' customers.

Under the terms of the deal, the customers of Regions Bank will enjoy the benefits of an array of financial advisory services, such as managed accounts, mutual funds, annuities, insurance, financial and retirement planning tools. These services will be provided by licensed financial consultants in Regions Bank branches.

The PrimeVest services, to be offered under Regions Investment Solutions brand, will be implemented in a phased manner in some select branches of the bank beginning 2013. For this purpose, the bank has started hiring financial consultants.

Management at Regions' believes that with PrimeVest's established track record of helping banks meet the customers' requirements through customized programs, it can improve the investment offerings for mass market as well as elite customers. The partnership will also provide Regions' customers an access to complete financial planning, investment and insurance services throughout its footprint.

PrimeVest, on its part, believes that the partnership is a remarkable prospect to combine its dedicated service with Regions' expertise.

Earlier in April, Regions sold its securities brokerage arm - Morgan Keegan & Company, Inc. - to Raymond James Financial Inc. (RJF). Management believes the latest deal will help negate the void left by this divestiture to some extent.

Further, in June, Regions merged three of its units into a single wealth management group. The company pooled its trust, insurance and private banking units into one group to look after affluent clients. We believe this deal with PrimeVest is an extension of its restructuring process.

Further, in our point of view, the deal would make it possible for Regions to explore opportunities consistent with its strategic and capital planning initiatives. This will aid in diversifying revenue streams and will help gaining profitable customers, which in turn, will raise fee income.

The formation will facilitate Regions to enhance its strategic plan by focusing on the main and profitable customer segments. The company aims at increasing non-interest revenues and creating strong customer relationships while providing greater value. However, the stringent regulatory and sluggish macroeconomic environments remain the major areas of concern.

Regions currently retains a Zacks #3 Rank, which translates into a short-term Hold rating. However, we believe Regions' favorable funding mix and improved core business performance strategies will yield profitable earnings in the upcoming quarters. These factors may ultimately result in upward estimate revisions, thereby leading to a better Zacks Rank. In the same sector, M&T Bank Corporation (MTB) retains a Zacks #1 Rank.

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