Overview 

The Kessler Group:
Financial Services Marketing & Consulting Innovation for Maximum Results

Headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts and with offices in Wilmington, Delaware and Sydney, Australia, The Kessler Group brings more than three decades of experience and results in credit card consulting and affinity marketing for our financial services brand partners worldwide. We specialize in partnership marketing and affinity credit cards, helping our partners forge relationships, market assets, develop strategies and execute tactics with one overriding goal: maximize portfolio value.

Our Guiding Principles

  • We are partners or principals with our clients and always ensure that our interests are aligned
  • We work collaboratively to develop solutions and strategies that deliver maximum value
  • We define success by achieving quantifiable results that exceed expectations
  • We understand our weaknesses and seek to partner with people with complementary skills, inside or outside the company
  • We believe that any engagement should be done yesterday – meaning we have a sense of urgency around delivering results
  • We prefer pay-for-performance – succeeding only when our clients succeed

Our History

More than 30 years ago, when he was selling installment loans to teachers, Howard Kessler learned a lesson that would change his life and the course of credit card marketing. If educators were willing to accept loans based upon the endorsement of their professional association, why wouldn’t other consumers welcome credit cards endorsed by organizations they trusted? Kessler moved from insight into action - and the affinity credit card was born.

Commencing in 1979, The Kessler Group and its predecessor companies pioneered multiple new opportunities in the endorsed credit card marketplace, focusing its first 20-plus years on securing mutually beneficial partnerships for issuing banks, including MBNA (now Bank of America). With successful relationships at its foundation, The Kessler Group expanded its range of services, building core competencies in group sales/marketing to generate new accounts for its affinity partners, as well as key skills in deal structuring, direct mail execution, group member segmentation, offer targeting, response model building and supply chain management. Over time, these areas of expertise evolved into two comprehensive practice areas: Partnership, and Marketing & Consulting Solutions.

When the credit card marketplace changed as the 21st century opened, The Kessler Group continued its evolution, developing a Mergers & Acquisitions practice capable of restructuring partnerships for optimal market advantage. By June 2011, the practice had represented buyers and sellers in more than 500 transactions representing over $60 billion in assets.

In 2007, Howard Kessler made yet another strategic move, selling a portion of the company to J. C. Flowers & Company to seed a new subsidiary, Kessler Capital Holdings. With a core $100 million capital fund, Kessler invests in new account acquisition programs to accelerate growth in the face of increasing earnings pressures and budgetary constraints. With Kessler Capital, clients can fund existing or incremental marketing programs where Kessler’s returns are aligned with our clients’ success through risk-based structures linked to the performance of the resulting new customer relationships over time.

Today, The Kessler Group’s four practice areas of Partnership, Marketing & Consulting, Mergers & Acquisitions and Capital are natural evolutions from the company’s affinity credit card business roots that continue to branch out into new areas of direct sales, innovation and opportunity.

 
 
 

1979 

The affinity credit card concept is developed by Howard Kessler

1979 

The Kessler Group takes the lead in signing affinity partnerships on behalf of partner banks, primarily MBNA (now Bank of America), eventually creating over 6,000 partnerships

 
 
 

1986 

The affinity concept expands to member organizations such as unions

1986 

Kessler develops and places the National Education Association (NEA) program to provide credit card benefits to its members

 
 
 

1989 

Smaller banks’ credit cards can now be issued by monoline issuers

1989 

Kessler identifies banking institutions to partner with MBNA

 
 
 

1996 

US monoline credit card issuers expand internationally

1996 

Kessler establishes international offices in key markets to develop affinity relationships on behalf of its partner banks

 
 
 

1997 

Retailers aggressively pursue co-branded card programs

1997 

Kessler signs a large retailer on behalf of MBNA, creating the single most successful retailer co-brand program in the US

 
 
 

1999 

The insurance industry embraces the affinity concept

1999 

Kessler formulates a partnership between MBNA and a large insurer

 
 
 

2001 

Subprime credit card lending growth accelerates

2001 

Kessler designs the “risk syndication” model for credit cards (loan turn-down reconsideration programs) with two large client banks

 
 
 

2003 

Large monoline issuer Providian looks for creative cost containment strategies

2003 

Kessler purchases Providian’s marketing operations and enters into a long-term marketing relationship with Providian, creating Kessler Pacific

 
 
 

2005 

MBNA sale to Bank of America creates demand from MBNA agent banks to reacquire their card businesses

2005 

Kessler develops amicable solutions on behalf of a number of large regional banks

 
 
 

2007 

Credit card industry growth and marketing expense is at an all-time high

2007 

Kessler forms Kessler Capital Holdings to fund new account acquisition marketing initiatives on behalf of its clients

 
 
 

2008 

Global recession causes card issuers to curtail new account acquisition marketing activity

2008 

Kessler creates turn-key diagnostics to assist partner banks in optimizing value from existing card portfolios

 
 
 

2009 

The Card ACT passes US Congress

2009 

Kessler helps partner banks make decisions on how to restructure and remarket card programs

 
 
 

2010 

Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, including the Durbin Amendment, which regulates debit interchange, is passed by the US Congress

2010 

Kessler supports partners in developing and executing Durbin mitigation strategies and tactics