First Maryland Bancorp has chosen its top secondary marketing executive to run its entire mortgage organization.

Robert P. O'Hara, who has spent the past 22 years in the mortgage business, was named this month as president of First National Mortgage Corp., First Maryland's mortgage banking unit.

Mr. O'Hara replaced William Wilcox, who left last month for First Fidelity Bancorp. The Lawrenceville, N.J., banking company will merge with First Union Corp. later this year.

As senior vice president at First National Mortgage Corp., Mr. O'Hara has spent the past six years building the unit's secondary marketing program.

Observers said his appointment signals the Baltimore bank's commitment to building fee income by selling off its loans while retaining servicing rights.

Like many other mortgage lenders, First Maryland uses agencies to package its conventional loans and conduits to handle jumbo loans. The bank prefers to retain servicing rights as a way of establishing a steady stream of fee income.

Mr. O'Hara plans to build those revenues in the next few years by more than doubling the bank's servicing, to $3 billion from $1.3 billion.

He acknowledges, however, that originations were not easy to come by.

So far this year, the mortgage bank has originated $515 million of loans. By yearend, Mr. O'Hara believes the bank will pass 1994's $735 million, but not by much.

To help rally the mortgage groups, Mr. O'Hara has spent the last couple of weeks on an eight-state tour, visiting the bank's 23 retail mortgage offices.

The visits allow the mortgage team to collectively plot strategies for the "fiercely competitive marketplace," he said.

Staff members, from clerks to loan officers, are encouraged to submit suggestions. In fact, changes are already under consideration.

For instance, the mortgage company may open to more loans a program that allows a rate decrease during the time between the application and approval process.

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