C&F Bank is offering a certificate of a deposit with a rate of return that goes up each time the Tribe football team wins.
The bank calls it the W&M Tribe Touchdown 11-month CD. It starts with a 0.45 percent annual percentage yield. That rates increases 0.05 percent with every William and Mary regular season victory and 0.10 percent for postseason wins.
“If they lose, it doesn’t go down, so that’s a good thing for customers,” said Maureen Medlin, the bank’s vice president of marketing.
William and Mary has won only one game so far this season.
“We went in to the product knowing that some years would be more successful than others,” Medlin said.
C&F typically kicks off the promotion in late June or early July.
To hedge against a stellar season and avoid having new depositors jump on the bandwagon mid-season to get in on a higher rate, Medlin said the bank typically stops offering the CD after the first few games.
“If they win the first three games, you get the current APY,” Medlin said. “If somebody is watching for them to have a great season, they may hold off a few games.”
That happened in 2009, when the team went on a tear and won nine regular season games and one postseason game. The bank increased the rate on the CD that season by 0.55 percent.
The themed CD strategy is a creative one in a time when CDs are a tough sell. Interest rates on loans are at historical lows, forcing banks to keep interest rates on deposits low. That thins the spread banks earn between interest paid by borrowers and yields paid out to depositors.
“The rates in this economy aren’t great, but at least it can increase,” Medlin said. The minimum deposit on the W&M CD is $2,500.
The idea sprouted in 2008, when Medlin saw a similar promotion in Illinois.
“I thought, ‘We’re based right here in James City County — wouldn’t be cool if we could do this for William and Mary?’” Medlin said. “We’ve been doing it ever since.”
There’s plenty of Tribe pride in the C&F headquarters, between Richmond and Williamsburg. C&F President and CEO Larry Dillon and CFO Tom Cherry both have MBAs from William and Mary.
The school also benefits. C&F donates 0.05 percent of the money taken in through the promotion each season to the athletic department.
Medlin said the program has been popular since it was introduced, although the bank would not release exact figures as to how many new deposits have been brought in from the campaign.
“I found over the last two seasons that the majority of our Tribe CDs are opened in our Richmond branches,” she said.
C&F, a $950 million bank, has a deposit base of $657 million, up about $11 million from the same time last year. It has 18 branches spread between Richmond and the Peninsula.
C&F has considered trying similar promotions with other schools, including the University of Richmond and Christopher Newport University in Newport News, but the idea hasn’t stuck anywhere else yet.
“We are interested to talking to other colleges in the area,” Medlin said.
The bank will also keep its focus on football for now because the limited number of games makes it easy for the bank to track week to week.
“Basketball is a lot of tracking,” Medlin said. “Every time it moves, we have to do a movement in the organization.”