Comerica Inc. and Republic New York Corp. have each hired a unit of Fiserv Inc. to operate the bulk of their human resources functions from a remote service bureau.

The two banks have farmed out payroll administration and systems, payroll processing, and tax filings to the Brookfield, Wis.-based firm's human resources information services unit.

Fiserv will oversee the work from its Melville, N.Y., service bureau, where a call center has also been set up to answer questions about employee benefits.

Officials at Detroit-based Comerica, which entered into a five-year contract with Fiserv, said the agreement has allowed them to pare 28 employees as part of a yearlong effort to focus on core banking businesses.

"We looked at the pieces that were not banking-related, and decided that instead of maintaining the technology and the systems expertise to run this area, there might be a better way," said John E. Graham, first vice president of human resources at Comerica.

He added that the staff reductions - many of the employees have been assigned to other areas of Comerica Bank - will prepare the institution to absorb employees gained from future bank acquisitions more efficiently.

"We won't have to worry about staffing up our back room," he said.

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