Compare these two statements: 'This transaction further advances our overall strategy, which is to focus on our higher growth fee-based activities, including securities servicing, cash processing and fiduciary services.'
'This transaction helps to complete our evolution towards a complete focus on the needs of institutional investors worldwide.'
The first was made by Tom Renyi, chairman and chief executive officer of The Bank of New York, about its recent agreement to sell BNY Financial Corporation (BNYFC), its factoring and asset-based lending business, to General Motors Acceptance Corporation.
The second came from Marsh Carter, chairman and chief executive officer of State Street, about its recent agreement to sell its commercial banking business to Citizens Financial Group.
These two deals follow on from the announcement at the beginning of the year that Mellon Bank Corporation was to sell its mortgage business, credit card portfolio and transaction processing unit. The sales are part of Mellon's strategy to focus on high-margin businesses, a clear indication that it wants to concentrate primarily on asset management (through Dreyfus) and administration (through Mellon Trust).
All three banks have recognised that, managed properly, the securities services business still offers an opportunity for high growth and substantial returns. In the case of State Street, the sale of its commercial banking business, and its four branches in Quincy and Boston, means that it is almost exclusively committed to fund management and administration. In the age of the universal bank, it seems that specialisation has not entirely gone out of fashion.