Invest Financial Corp., which offers programs to banks for selling securities, annuities, and other investment products, is paying close attention to its broker-dealer relationship with Chemical Banking Corp. these days.

The Tampa, Fla.-based company recently hired David Crowther from Marine Midland Banks Inc. to manage its program at Chemical, its third-largest client. Chemical had been without an Invest manager since Ed Diamond left the post earlier this year to manage a similar program at Dime Savings Bank.

Mr. Crowther's appointment is being viewed in the investment product community as an attempt by Invest to secure its niche with the money-center bank in light of the planned merger with Manufacturers Hanover Corp. at the end of the year.

Hanover sells investment products at its branches through ABI Securities, a subsidiary of Hudson Valley Financial Corp. Officers at Chemical and Manufacturers Hanover have not made a decision about which company will handle retail investment services after the merger.

Industry sources, however, believe that Invest has a big edge over Hudson Valley, since Chemical's program generates much higher revenues than Hanoever's. Although Chemical has only 36 Invest brokers in its branches, their revenue-per-broker figure is said to be exceptionally strong. Hanover has 24 salespeople selling Hudson Valley products.

Dennis Kosovac, a senior vice president at chemical, said the bank's commissions on investment products have tripled annually since the Invest program was introduced in 1988. "I think you'll see continuing growth throughout the next couple of years."

Invest, a subsidiary of Kemper Financial Cos., sells its services primarily to smaller banks and thrifts. Some of its clients hire Invest to train their own employees to sell the stocks and other products; others, like Chemical, lease space to Invest and share the commissions.

Mr. Crowther, who has not available for an interview, is an experienced hand in the buscent business of selling investment products to bank customers. He most recently helped Buffalo-based Marine launch it MarineEdge investment program.

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