FTR Inc., a Lombard, Ill.-based provider of bank training services, has struck a marketing and development agreement with Multimedia Learning Inc. of Irving, Tex.

The deal, aimed at improving the way FTR's training programs are presented, marked the second time in as many weeks that a bank training firm upgraded its technology.

Early last week, Omega Performance announced its acquisition of MicroMentor. Omega, based in Sausalito, Calif., is a provider of training services; MicroMentor of Cambridge, Mass., makes interactive learning systems.

"A number of trends occurring in banking are forcing trainers to do something different," said Paul B. Johnson, president and chief executive officer of Multimedia Learning.

Banks' need for training is on the rise as mergers bring on new employees, change product lines, and alter information systems, he said.

"This is forcing them to switch from the classroom, not because they think a computer can do it better, but because it can do it in a shorter length of time," he said.

Multimedia Learning developed a CD-ROM program for tellers that First Union Corp. officials said has cut the bank's training costs in half.

Combining video, audio, and graphic elements with traditional computer- based course techniques, the new training programs can create an environment that Mr. Johnson described as "almost more effective than a classroom."

One of the benefits of on-line training: Employees can work at their own pace. Also, they can easily revisit parts of the training.

FTR, which once stood for Financial Training Resources, said it has worked with 1,350 financial institutions since it opened for business in 1964.

It invented the Trialogue Selling System, which lets bankers get on-line help they may need while talking with customers.

"We look at the bottom-line results, tie them back to specific behaviors that (bank executives) want their people to engage in, and regularly monitor" those practices, said Jeff Sucec, president of FTR, which has annual revenues of about $8 million.

Mr. Sucec noted that Multimedia Learning, which has annual revenues of $22 million, enjoys "a rich basis in many industries."

He added that the companies' marketing agreement "allows us to merge their suite of multimedia tools with our strong content expertise in the banking industry."

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