Financial assets aren't the only thing fleeing banks for Charles Schwab & Co. these days.

The San Francisco-based discount broker has hired former First Interstate Bancorp executive Steven L. Scheid as its chief financial officer.

Mr. Scheid, 42, turned down what he called an "interesting offer" from Wells Fargo & Co. following its takeover of First Interstate. In late April, he began looking for another job.

"I liked banking and spent the last 20 years in banking, but I wasn't necessarily married to it," Mr. Scheid said during a recent telephone interview.

In mid-May, two weeks after Mr. Scheid interviewed with company founder and chief executive Charles R. Schwab and chief operating officer David S. Pottruck, they made him an offer. Mr. Scheid quickly accepted and was at his new post by June 3.

At Schwab, Mr. Scheid will oversee accounting, treasury operations, accounts payable, and investor relations. He replaced the recently retired A. John Gambs, who came to Schwab eight years ago from Merrill Lynch & Co.

A relative novice in the brokerage business, Mr. Scheid isn't the only former banker to become a top executive at Schwab. His boss, Mr. Pottruck, spent five years in marketing at Citicorp, beginning in 1976.

Mr. Pottruck emphasized that Mr. Scheid's banking experience will be highly relevant in his new position. "We have a good deal of regard for the complexity and growth of First Interstate's network," he said.

Mr. Scheid - who was executive vice president for finance at First Interstate - said he has his eyes wide open about the difficulties riding herd on finances at Schwab, where customer assets stand at $203 billion up from $123 billion at yearend 1994.

But former colleagues say that will suit Mr. Scheid just fine.

"He knows how to rip numbers apart and understand what's behind them, but he can also step back and see the broader picture," said Lynnet F. Deily, former chief executive of First Interstate's Texas bank. "Part of the fun there will be how he manages that level of growth," she said. "It's a nice problem to have."

But Mr. Scheid doesn't plan on leaving banks completely behind. Although he said it's too early to impose his own strategic imprint on Scwhab, he hinted that the brokerage will soon offer to tackle banks' securities clearing and bookkeeping chores.

"We've got the scale to allow them to do their back room a whole lot cheaper, and that's a business we'll be pushing into," Mr. Scheid said. "We're very efficient."

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