Jack Ablin, who was chief investment officer at Barnett Capital Advisors Inc. in Jacksonville, Fla., said he has left to join the investment management company at Colonial BankGroup of Montgomery, Ala.

In his new post, he reports to Colonial executive vice president Sam Gentry, who is in charge of trust, private banking, and brokerage.

Mr. Ablin, 39, spent a year at Barnett, which was bought by NationsBank Corp. in January. While at Barnett, he managed $11 billion of assets.

He said that NationsBank's recent merger agreement with BankAmerica Corp. may mean the former Barnett group would have to move to Charlotte, N.C., where NationsBank is based or even to BankAmerica's home in San Francisco.

"I wanted to stay in Florida, one of the fastest-growing markets for investment products," said Mr. Ablin.

He also said that at some of the nation's biggest banks, clients are often referred to a toll-free telephone number, though small investment management companies like Colonial's, which he joined June 1, "offer a much more hands-on level and service and still turn a profit."

So far, Colonial Asset Management group has $220 million under management, which was acquired two years ago with the trust business of Jefferson Bancorp, Miami Beach.

"Jack Ablin brings a great track record to Colonial Bank," said Colonial chairman Robert E. Lowder. "We are continuing to add products and services."

Market experts pointed out that the departure of top talent from banks is not unusual after merger agreements. In February, Amsouth Bancorp started Sawgrass Asset Management in Jacksonville with three former NationsBank managers.

Mr. Ablin is a good example of how small banks can benefit from the mergers of larger companies, said bank analyst Harold Schroeder, at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc.

"He will be able to bring in new accounts and will know how to grow and market those accounts because of his experience," Mr. Schroeder said.

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