Federated Investors will not fill the vacancy left by the departure of its national director for retirement sales, Stephen P. Cronin.

Mr. Cronin, who headed the retirement sales group of the Pittsburgh- based mutual fund company, recently joined Spectrem Group, a San Francisco- based consulting firm.

A spokesman for Federated said a successor for Mr. Cronin will not be appointed. Instead, each division will handle the distribution of retirement plan services and products internally.

"A decision was made to handle it in a collaborative fashion," said the spokesman, Douglas J. Lucas.

The move comes at a time of tremendous growth in the retirement plan services business. At the end of 1995 retirement assets totaled $5.35 trillion, according to the Investment Company Institute.

Mr. Cronin, formerly a senior vice president at Federated Services Co., a subsidiary of Federated Investors, was named national director for retirement sales-a new position-one year ago. His responsibilities included selling retirement products at bank trust divisions and broker-dealers.

Those functions now fall to the heads of Federated's retail, trust, and institutional businesses. They will have direct responsibility for retirement sales to their specific channels, Mr. Lucas said.

Federated had not planned to eliminate Mr. Lucas' position before he announced plans to leave the firm, Mr. Lucas added. But the company had no clear successor. And because Federated puts a premium on employees with expert knowledge of the company, it decided to split the function among its other sales heads, Mr. Lucas said.

As director of retirement sales at Spectrem, Mr. Cronin is responsible for selling its retirement services consulting, merger, information, and acquisition advisory services to financial institutions.

Mr. Cronin is telecommuting from a home office in Boston. He had the same arrangement with Federated, which he joined in 1994.

Mr. Cronin said he was not comfortable selling products to sponsors of retirement plans.

"I've always thought of myself as a consultant," Mr. Cronin added. A consultant with Coopers & Lybrand and Putnam Cos. before joining Federated, Mr. Cronin said the job encourages global thinking and the use of accumulated knowledge in providing strategic advice to many companies.

"You are really dealing hourly with leaders in this industry,"he said.

Mr. Cronin is not the first Federated employee to join Spectrem. Last summer, Mark Gensheimer, a 15-year veteran of Federated who was then executive vice president and director of bank trust marketing and sales, joined Spectrem as director of business development.

Spectrem Group is a subsidiary of PSI Global, a financial services market research firm based in Tampa.

This week Spectrem announced two other new hires. Spectrem has hired David F. Toth as a senior consultant based in Chicago. He formerly was a senior vice president and director of mutual funds at Boatmen's Trust Co.

Liat Rorer, a former vice president at Charles Schwab & Co. and Fidelity Investments, was hired as a senior consultant based in San Francisco. u

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