BankAmerica Corp., one of the top banks in the mutual fund field, has abruptly shifted the management of its retail brokerage unit.

John O. Myers has stepped down as chief executive of BA Investment Services after just 15 months on the job, the San Francisco-based company announced Wednesday.

He will be succeeded on Aug. 29 by Robert Flowers, who resigned in May as president of Banc One Corp.'s brokerage subsidiary, Banc One Securities Corp.

Mr. Flowers' precise role and title are still being hashed out, a BankAmerica spokesman said. But he will oversee, as Mr. Myers did, more than 400 brokers who sell mutual funds, stocks, bonds, and other investments in 1,600 BankAmerica branches. He will report to John Lloyd, an executive vice president.

BankAmerica executives declined to say why Mr. Myers was leaving, and neither Mr. Myers nor Mr. Flowers could be reached for comment.

BankAmerica has led the industry in mutual fund sales, reporting $1.6 billion in gross sales during the first quarter of 1994, according to call report data.

But executives have been pushing apparently with little success to increase retail sales of its proprietary Pacific Horizon Funds.

In an interview last year, Mr. Myers and a colleague, Debra McGinty-Poteet, said the Pacific Horizon Funds made up about 20% of retail sales. Their goal, they said, was to boost that figure to 40% or 50%.

Earlier this year, top executives of the bank turned up the heat, issuing mandates to beef up proprietary fund sales, said Geoffrey Bobroff, president of Bobroff Consulting, East Greenwich, R.I. Mr. Myers "did not satisfy" their demands, he said.

Mr. Myers also was not able to achieve his own objective of turning Bank of America into a securities powerhouse, the consultant said. "He wanted to build the Merrill Lynch of the West," he said.

Mr. Myers, who spent 10 years at Boston's Colonial Investments before joining BankAmerica last May, plans to return to the securities industry, the bank said. Details of his plans could not be learned.

Unlike Mr. Myers, Mr. Flowers is a product of the banking industry.

Before his two-year stint at Columbus, Ohio-based Banc One, he spent eight years at First Union Corp., where he ran the broker-dealer subsidiary.

"Mr. Flowers understands the bank culture better than Mr. Myers, who came out of the securities industry," Mr. Bobroff said.

During Mr. Flowers' tenure at Banc One, the company laid the groundwork for a big mutual fund sales push, establishing 600 investment centers in branches.

"Given what he accomplished at Bane One, he's certainly someone who can do a good job at Bank of America," said Glen Casey, a consultant with Cerulli Associates, Boston.

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