The new president at American Savings Bank's brokerage unit plans to beef up her staff and take advantage of the unit's close affiliation with the California thrift's mortgage operations.

J. Pamela Dawson said she plans to add 22 sales people and two regional managers to the unit by the end of March. ASB Financial Services currently has 80 salespeople and five regional managers.

She also plans to boost sales at the brokerage unit by selling investments to American Savings' mortgage customers, she said.

"This gives us the opportunity to expand and capitalize on business through the lending area," she explained.

Ms. Dawson, a former Wells Fargo & Co. executive, replaced Randall Ciccati as president of ASB Financial Services on December 5. Mr. Ciccati left ASB in October after the brokerage unit was merged with the company's mortgage-origination business.

To help the new push to sell investment products to mortgage borrowers, ASB hired Darla Hurt-Weese, also from Wells Fargo, as a regional sales manager in November to head nonretail sales, which includes marketing investments to mortgage customers. Ms. Hurt-Weese was vice president of Wells' statewide seminar brokerage.

Ms. Dawson said she expects the nonretail sales business to be up and running by the end of the first quarter next year.

ASB also hired Mike Kormos as regional manager in November. Mr. Kormos previously worked for Wells Fargo's private bank brokerage, where he was a consultant and sales manager.

Though the new structure of the brokerage caused the last president to tender his resignation, Ms. Dawson said she finds the setup exciting.

As long as the brokerage keeps its ties to retail banking, she said, she does not anticipate a lack of control over any of the division's future operations.

"Right now, we focus on retail banking customers as leads, but we can look at the lending area to get customers who currently aren't doing other retail business with ASB," Ms. Dawson said.

Ms. Dawson reports to Craig S. Davis, executive vice president and director of mortgage operations and all ASB subsidiaries, which includes the brokerage unit. Previously, Ms. Dawson was senior vice president and regional manager at Wells Fargo Securities Inc., Houston.

American Savings, an Irvine, Calif.-based thrift, is known for its aggressive and profitable investment product sales. A deal for Washington Mutual to acquire American Savings is expected to close by the end of this year, after which American Savings will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Washington Mutual.

Spokespeople for both companies said ASB Financial and Washington Mutual's broker-dealer will remain independent of each other after the deal is final.

Kenneth Kehrer, an investment product consultant in Princeton, N.J., said that because Wells combines full-time brokers and bank branch staff, Ms. Dawson's experience there could come in handy should American Savings decide to go that route.

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