Comerica Inc. is beefing up its executive staff to attract more union retirement plan assets.

Bankers Trust veteran Gerard "Jerry" Arnone is set to join today as vice president and eastern regional manager for union pensions, a new position. And the company intends to hire a West Coast counterpart soon, said Cheryl Derezinski, a senior vice president in charge of institutional trust and retirement services.

The union pension business is nothing new for the Detroit banking company; of the $61 billion of assets it manages and administers, $10.3 billion is for such plans. Comerica is the leading provider in Michigan and manages plans in 10 other states, including Illinois, Wisconsin, Florida, California, and Texas, Ms. Derezinski said.

The company has doubled its services to union pension plans in the past three or four years in the Midwest. Making a national move was only logical, Ms. Derezinski said.

"We have been trying to make inroads in the East for years," she said. After signing up a construction trade union in New Hampshire, Comerica executives decided it needed someone based on the East Coast, Ms. Derezinski said.

Mr. Arnone, 60, has 35 years of experience in financial services focusing on union pensions and public funds. He will initially run the new eastern regional office from his Sea Girt, N.J., home. The company plans to open an office in southern New Jersey within the next month.

Mr. Arnone had been national director for joint trustee plans at Bankers Trust since 1987. He retained the post when Deutsche Bank bought the company last year.

"I think I bring a real national presence with funds and unions from Washington State to Florida and Southern California to Boston," Mr. Arnone said.

Banks have been making a real thrust in recent years to manage retirement assets, said Augustus Cheh, the global director of investment consulting with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Many are also pushing hard for union pension business, he added, but "I am not sure if a lot of banks are … hiring just to focus on this area."

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.