Nine months after becoming the president and chief operating officer of Fleet Financial Group, Robert J. Higgins is ushering in some big management changes.

Mr. Higgins announced Wednesday that Anne Slattery, director of retail banking, had "chosen to leave the company for professional reasons" and would be succeeded by Robert B. Hedges Jr.

Mr. Hedges will head a management group that will oversee the bank's different ways of reaching retail customers, including branches, ATMs, telephone, PC, and Internet banking.

Mr. Hedges and Ms. Slattery had shared responsibilities for the bank's retail division. "Slattery's specialty was the branches, Hedges' all the other areas. Given the direction the industry is moving in, it's understandable why the move was made," said Nancy Bush, associate director of research at Brown Brothers, Harriman & Co.

Mr. Higgins, who has worked at Fleet for 27 years and took his current position last April, said the management change came in recognition of the growing popularity of nontraditional banking venues. Combining the all bank's retail distribution channels into one management division is designed to "facilitate a seamless and consistent customer experience," he said.

The different retail channels will be put on one technology platform, which should make developing that platform easier and ensure that "you'll get the same answers to your questions" no matter which form of banking a customer uses, said Mr. Hedges in a telephone interview.

Mr. Higgins also announced several changes in Fleet's commercial banking divisions.

Leo R. Breitman was named the new head of commercial banking, Timothy J. Conway will head investment banking, and Richard A. Higginbotham was named head of specialty lending.

Apparently Mr. Higgins is not done yet.

The bank said its heads of product management, data warehouse management, consumer loan services, and small-business lending will report to Mr. Higgins "on an interim basis."

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