In naming Rod Smyth chief investment strategist for its Richmond, Va., brokerage unit, First Union has taken a proactive step against the bear market.

Mr. Smyth, 39, a native of Ireland, has spent most of his career navigating economic slumps in Asia and Europe. For 17 years he has worked with investment banks and brokerages, primarily in Asia, and during that time he has gained experience with tanking markets.

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