Bank Brokers' Commissions Rebound

Brokers working at banks brought home 20% more in commissions in November than in the previous month, thanks to investor demand for annuity sales, a study shows.The increase reversed a slide in September and October, when investment product sales were down, according to the study conducted for the Bank Securities Association by Kenneth Kehrer Associates Inc. of Princeton, N.J.

Fixed annuities accounted for 32% of bank investment program revenues in November, up from 25% in October.

Variable annuity sales rose to 24% of revenues, from 21%. Mutual fund sales remained relatively flat, the company said.

Total sales, which includes reinvested dividends, also increased, rising 12% from October's level to $107.6 billion, the Investment Company Institute reported.

- Amy L. Anderson

First Union Unit Closes a Fund of Funds

First Investment Advisors, the wealth management arm of First Union Corp., said it closed a new private equity fund of funds to investors Tuesday.The fund, the first of its kind on offer at the Charlotte, N.C., banking company, raised $92 million from high-net-worth individuals and employees of First Union.

The fund is First Union's first foray into the private equity fund of funds business.

A fund of funds invests in a variety of offerings chosen to meet a specific investment objective. In the case of the private equity fund, investments will focus on leveraged buyout and venture capital partnerships.

Invest Financial Names Compliance Officer

Invest Financial Corp., a third-party marketer in Tampa, appointed Ruth A. Burgess as senior vice president and chief compliance officer.Ms. Burgess, 48, was Invest's associate compliance officer. She succeeded Debra Williamson, who left Invest late last year, a spokeswoman said.

- Amy L. Anderson

Van Kampen Taps Former Scudder Marketer

Van Kampen Investments has tapped the former director of marketing at Scudder Kemper Investments to head its mutual fund marketing and advertising.David M. Swanson, 42, succeeds Scott West as chief marketing officer. Mr. West was named to the newly created position of director of marketing programs, where his responsibilities include developing customized sales training initiatives.

Mr. Swanson was previously in charge of marketing for Kemper Funds, which is the load family of Scudder Kemper. A Kemper spokeswoman said he has not been replaced.

- Cheryl Winokur

Liberty to Trim Fees on Big Investments

Liberty Funds Distributor Inc. of Boston plans to roll out lower sales charges or "breakpoints" next month on investments of $250,000 to $1 million.Liberty, a unit of Liberty Financial Cos., also plans to broaden investors' ability to purchase B shares, the funds that levy sales charges when shares are redeemed rather than during the initial investment. Investors can now buy B shares only if they invest less than $250,000.

Liberty Funds sold $1.8 billion of investment products through banks last year, including $836.8 million of mutual fund sales, a spokeswoman said. Its fund families include Colonial Funds, Newport Funds, and Stein Roe Advisor Series.

- Amy L. Anderson

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