Barnett Banks Inc.'s chief asset management executive, Richard H. Jones, will leave the Florida banking company on the eve of its acquisition by NationsBank Corp.

Mr. Jones said last week that he will leave Jacksonville-based Barnett at the close of the NationsBank deal early next year, a NationsBank spokeswoman confirmed.

His internal announcement coincided with a public announcement by NationsBank about the executives it has named to run parts of the investment business in Florida.

Mr. Jones could not be reached for comment and the spokeswoman said she did not know if he had been offered a position with NationsBank, which is based in Charlotte, N.C.

A one-time Fidelity Investments executive, Mr. Jones was recruited to Barnett with great fanfare from Fleet Financial Group in the spring of 1995.

Responsible for overhauling Barnett's asset management business, Mr. Jones brought no-load mutual funds to the bank. He also scrapped the bank's separate trust company, and set up an insurance program with a handful of insurers.

"He had quite broad responsibility," said Kenneth Kehrer, a consultant to bank investment and insurance programs in Princeton, N.J. "He ran not only for investments, but trust and asset management and insurance."

Mr. Kehrer said Mr. Jones, who sat on Barnett's 11-member management operating committee, simply would not fit in NationsBank's organizational chart.

"If he were to have a comparable job at Nations, he'd be very high up in the hierarchy," he added. "I would have been surprised if he was asked to stay, given how NationsBank already has other people in those positions."

At NationsBank, asset management systemwide is run by veteran Bob Shell, who has executives reporting to him from several directions, including private client services, trust, mutual funds, and institutional asset management.

In Florida, NationsBank has appointed several of its own executives to run private client services. These include: G. Timothy Laney, president of the private client group in Florida; Charles T. Sober Jr., chief investment officer; and Susan H. Walker, president of NationsBank Trust-Florida.

Titles with separate functions do not appear in NationsBank's private client group in other markets, which each have one regional manager.

Florida gets the special treatment because "it's an important market," the spokeswoman said, adding that clients' needs there "are broad and we want to make sure we're going to serve them efficiently."

Private client assets make up about half of the total managed at both banks. Overall, Barnett has about $20 billion of assets under management and NationsBank has $120 billion of assets under management.

The two programs are vastly different. For instance, NationsBank's private client group requires a minimum investment of $1 million, but Barnett's entry point is $250,000.

Under Mr. Jones, Barnett's private client staff sold and serviced trust, investment management, and brokerage accounts, as well as proprietary mutual funds. At NationsBank, private client associates are expected to do all that as well as sell banking services.

Barnett employees may be disappointed when it comes to compensation, as NationsBank does not pay sales commissions.

Instead, the private client group divvies up a share of annual net income to give bonuses. Regional managers decide who gets what. In contrast, Mr. Jones' salespeople received monthly sales commissions.

"We haven't been told anything yet," he said. "Right now we don't now where we stand."

NationsBank also named Bill Brewster, David Sisemore, and Tom Schwarz as the regional managers for its retail brokerage in three areas of Florida: North, South, and Tampa Bay. Only Mr. Brewster has worked for Barnett.

Some Barnett managers will stay on to assist in the transition. Jeffrey J. Wirth, whom Mr. Jones brought in from Fleet, will lead that effort. Also, Rebecca S. Allen, the head of Barnett's private client services, will stay after the merger, the spokeswoman said.

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