Bank of New York Co.'s retail securities brokerage program is coming of age.

Within 12 to 18 months the banking company plans to hire more than 60 investment representatives from Essex Corp., the New York marketing firm that helped kick off its retail brokerage three years ago, a senior executive said.

"By internalizing the program we can offer people one view through the bank," said John Pugliese, a Bank of New York senior vice president.

The representatives, who have Series 6 or Series 7 brokerage licenses, work out of 70 branches designated as investment centers. Traveling from these hubs, they cover another 290 branches, including supermarket sites.

Including managers and administrators, 70 people working in the bank's investment centers are now licensed through or employed by Essex. When they move to the banking company's payroll, it will begin clearing their trades through its own broker-dealer.

The plan shows how a strong faith in retail investment sales has emerged at Bank of New York, which has its roots in managing money for wealthy families. Its retail brokerage takes aim at bank customers who invest elsewhere.

"We feel the branch system is a good distribution channel to gather those assets," Mr. Pugliese said. "They don't need to go to other avenues; they can go through the bank."

By bringing the brokerage sales force in-house, Bank of New York is following a well-blazed trail. In recent years many large banking companies, including Wells Fargo & Co. and Chase Manhattan Corp., have graduated to running their own brokerages after learning the trade from a third-party marketer.

"Essex does this all the time. They understand that banks, if successful, will internalize," Mr. Pugliese said. He added that Bank of New York will continue to turn to Essex for sales training and wholesale services.

Essex is looking forward to the progression, according to Frederick S. Nicholas, executive vice president, who said Bank of New York's retail program is big enough now to have its own brokers. Essex will become even more involved with Bank of New York, he added.

"We get to concentrate on what we do very well," Mr. Nicholas said.

In addition to support of training and marketing, he cited wholesaling of fixed and variable annuities, mutual funds, and life insurance, which are all "becoming more and more important."

Running its brokerage autonomously could ease the whole business for the bank and its customers.

For instance, if bond and fund trade clearing is pulled inside to join equity clearing in the retail division of Bank of New York's own broker- dealer, BNY ESI & Co., clients would get a consolidated statement instead of information in separate mailings. BNY ESI itself is new: The combination of the bank's institutional broker-dealer, ESI Securities, and BNY Personal Brokerage took effect July 2.

Bank of New York is taking other steps to expand its investment product sales. Last month the Essex employees who are licensed to sell fixed annuities started making referrals to its investment or trust programs. Branch workers had been primarily responsible for such referrals.

"Our goal is to grow that base and become a feeder system," Mr. Pugliese said. "We're ramping up our marketing to persuade more retail customers to look at the bank as an investment center for all needs, not just checking and CDs."

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