First Maryland Bancorp's corporate realignment plan includes expanding its retail brokerage salesforce in Pennsylvania.
Allied Irish Bank's U.S. arm, which is changing its name to Allfirst on June 28, said 70 of its bankers would earn series 6 licenses this year to sell investment products. They work in branches of Dauphin Deposit Bank and Trust Co., which Baltimore-based First Maryland acquired in July 1997.
First Maryland has 20 bankers in Pennsylvania with series 6 licenses in its York Bank and Trust division.
Dauphin, which was based in Harrisburg, had not sold investments at its branches, said Rick A. Gold, the chief executive officer of FMB Trust Co. Mr. Gold, who came from Dauphin, also oversees First Maryland Brokerage Co.
Dauphin did have a handful of series 7 brokers who worked in its investment banking subsidiary, Hopper Soliday & Co., which First Maryland sold in December. One broker from Hopper joined First Maryland Brokerage.
Though some series 7 brokers will be recruited in Pennsylvania, the emphasis is on branch-based sales by bankers.
"We don't want full-service brokers to compete with our platform program," Mr. Gold said.
Instead, series 7-licensed brokers would assist the bankers as they do in the Maryland branch system. This arrangement is commonly referred to as a "hybrid" brokerage program.
"They work with platform people," Mr. Gold said, "sitting in on sales, participating, coaching, training, (and) taking care of some of the compliance."
The goal is to have at least one series 6-licensed salesperson in each of the banking company's 263 branches. Though First Maryland Brokerage employs 300 series 6 representatives and 74 with series 7 licenses, most of the licensed bankers are in Maryland branches.
Since early 1997, management of $17.9 billion-asset First Maryland had been brainstorming to keep the "best practices" of companies it acquired. Many plans, including those for the brokerage, are being put into place now that the restructuring, which included charter mergers, is complete.
Some banks are fashioning brokerage units after the full-service model seen in companies like Merrill Lynch & Co. But a handful-like SouthTrust Corp. of Birmingham, Ala.-are introducing or reintroducing hybrid sales programs this year. Others, including Chicago-based Bank One Corp. and Charlotte, N.C.-based First Union Corp., are beefing up their programs.
Deploying licensed bankers reveals bankers' recognition that branch customers are more likely to buy packaged investment products than trade securities, which are sold by series 7 brokers, said Les Dinkin, managing principal of NBW Consulting Group in Westport, Conn.
"When banks got into this business, it was everything or nothing. Everyone had to be series 7 licensed," he said. "Looking at where people put their money, they don't really need as many series 7 brokers."
With more bankers able to sell annuities and mutual funds, Mr. Gold expects to see inflows to First Maryland's proprietary mutual fund family, the Ark Funds.
Sales are split evenly between the Ark Funds and other families, Mr. Gold said. He declined to disclose the amount of Ark sales, but said he expects to see at least a 90% increase this year with the additional salespeople. "We want to double sales," he said.
The Ark family, which manages $6 billion of assets, and Washington-based Zirkin-Cutler Investments Inc. will be the only First Maryland units to keep their own names after the introduction of the Allfirst moniker.