The California Public Employees Retirement System has agreed to let a small thrift's broker-dealer offer financial planning services to its members.

Bank Plus Corp.'s broker-dealer, Gateway Investment Services, began giving seminars to some of Calpers' 1.2 million members last month. The sessions deal with investing and personal finance.

Gateway will draw up customized financial plans for Calpers members upon request and tell them of mutual funds, annuities, and other products sold by it and its sister company, Fidelity Federal Bank.

Gateway will reap fee and interest income but no management fees because it has no proprietary products. Both Gateway and Fidelity are owned by Bank Plus, Los Angeles.

Three companies submitted proposals, said Nancy Carter, assistant division chief of field services at Calpers. The other two were American Express' financial planning unit in Minneapolis and Financial Network Investment Corp. of Torrance, Calif.

Bank Plus is the first bank or thrift ever to get Calpers' financial planning franchise. Gateway's free custom financial plan was the deciding factor, said Ms. Carter.

Gateway is working with Financial Plan Coordinator, a Belmont, Mass., company that specializes in financial education and retirement planning services for public-sector employers and employees.

Rick Greenwood, president and chief executive officer of Bank Plus, called the strategy of free counseling "a pretty good bet" because the same strategy had been successful inside the bank.

And he said getting exposure to 200 people at a time is "a real economy for us."

Gateway will give 100 seminars this year and 200 in 1998. In addition to mutual funds and annuities, employees will be offered checking and savings accounts and certificates of deposit through Bank Plus.

Gateway sold $80 million of mutual funds and annuities in the first half and ranks as a top seller of investment products for its size.

Based on the ratio of investment product sales to deposits, Bank Plus ranks fourth among U.S. thrifts and 23d among banks and thrifts, according to Singer's Annuity and Funds Report, Mamaroneck, N.Y.

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