Two Connecticut-based consulting firms are teaming up to offer bankers a glimpse of the future for retail investment product sales.

Next month Optima Group of Fairfield and Futures Group of Glastonbury will invite major banks to participate in a project to prepare for what a distant tomorrow may bring.

With questions about how banks should position themselves in the investment products business outnumbering answers, the venture seems to come at an opportune time.

Futures Group, founded in 1971 by a real-life rocket scientist named Ted Gordon, specializes in long-term business strategies based on "what-if" scenarios. Optima Group specializes in financial services consulting.

Some of the scenarios Futures Group develops may sound "farfetched," president Frank K. Ruotolo conceded. "But our job is to ... convince our potential clients that this is practical stuff even though it sounds a little distant."

In the partnership with Optima, Futures Group gets quick access to financial services know-how to help build models of how the market for retail sale of investment products may unfold.

Futures Group usually works quietly on multimillion-dollar projects commissioned by individual clients - but not this time. This study is to be sponsored by a consortium of 10 or 12 banks, which would pay $50,000 to $100,000 each, Mr. Ruotolo said.

Kenneth Hoffman, president of Optima Group, said the partnership would let his company "take the strategic planning we do for a three- or five- year period ... and extend the ideas we have about market trends far into the future."

The joint Optima-Futures venture will send major-bank CEOs a proposal by the second half of September, Mr. Ruotolo said.

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