In most cities, City Hall is better known as a stomping ground for politicians than for its investment experts.

But for one New Hampshire bank, it was the perfect place to find a brokerage chief.

John I. Snow is to take over Thursday as head of First NH Bank's brokerage affiliate, ending a two-year stint as coordinator for the city of Manchester, N.H.

Mr. Snow spent 16 years as a banker before being asked to serve as coordinator in 1993. The 60-year-old executive had been reappointed to the government post shortly before First NH president L. Douglas O'Brien offered him a job with the bank.

"He's very well-known in the state and now in the municipal arena," Mr. O'Brien said.

Mr. Snow will oversee FH Investment Services, whose current president, John L. Claps, will step down today. Mr. Claps could not be reached for comment, but bank officials said he was leaving to pursue other professional interests.

The brokerage affiliate offers First NH customers asset allocation products and money management services for customers with more than $400,000 to invest. First NH is the largest bank provider of 401(k) and pension services in New Hampshire. The subsidiary currently manages $2 billion of assets, mostly in pension and 401(k) plans.

An accountant by training, Mr. Snow was president and chief executive of BankEast Corp. from 1982 to 1988. He then was a financial planner until called upon to finish the term of Manchester's departing city coordinator.

Mr. Snow won't entirely lose touch with City Hall in his new job. First NH Bank handles some of the city's trust and payroll accounts, according to Manchester Mayor Raymond J. Wieczorek.

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