The private-client unit at Fleet Financial Group has named new regional managers for its investments business to accommodate merger-driven growth.

To handle the load of new clients, the bank last week scooped out three new regions - Fairfield County, Conn.; northern Connecticut and western Massachusetts; and Rhode Island. Each will be managed by high-ranking executives.

After merging its private financial services unit with those of Shawmut National Corp. and National Westminster Bank USA, Fleet found itself with a whopping $26 billion in personal-client assets under management or administration.

Michael C. Noble, a Fleet executive vice president in charge of personal financial services, wants to "focus on customer satisfaction in respective regional markets," he wrote in a memo to his 820-member staff. Fleet already had units dedicated to Maine and New Hampshire; Boston; Springfield, Mass.; "coastal" Connecticut; metropolitan New York; Albany, and Buffalo.

The new managers - John F. "Jay" Wood Jr., Susan A. Rottner, and Gail A. Ginnetty - are new to the private-client group.

Mr. Wood, who is heading the Fairfield County, Conn., office, worked with commercial banking clients as a senior vice president in Fleet's cash management division.

Ms. Rottner, an executive vice president for the northern Connecticut and western Massachusetts region, hails from Shawmut's human resources department. Before arriving there she worked in portfolio management and community banking.

Ms. Ginnetty, senior vice president for Rhode Island, had been working in customer service and satisfaction at Fleet Investment Services. She has worked in private banking and commercial lending for Fleet.

Regional executives bring banks closer to their communities, helping them stay attuned to local interests, said Gene A. Herbster, a management consultant based in Falmouth, Mass. "You can respond faster when you have your ear to the ground," he said.

Indeed, all three of Fleet's new executives are personally entrenched in their respective regions, working on the boards of numerous charitable and civic organizations.

Fleet has been making widespread changes in its private financial services group. Late last year the bank integrated its trust and private lending lines. Before, each region had it own trust officer and private banker; now, regional managers handle both functions.

"A lot of organizations are struggling with how to make the integration. Fleet decided to bite the bullet," said David Masters, a consultant at Fairfield, Conn.-based Optima Group.

"If you don't force it managerially, it won't happen on its own."

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