Mr. Kocher, 52, was previously in charge of developing new business in the bank channel and had been part of a triumvirate running the business since the departure almost a year ago of Henry Schulthesz. Mr. Schulthesz had headed the unit for three years.
The Chicago-based company named a director of the financial institutions division because of the growth of the business, said Jim Greenawalt, head of Kemper's overall distribution business.
"I felt that given all the challenges and responsibilities I have, we had reached a point where we needed to officially name someone to be responsible for the channel,'' he said.
Jeff McGee will continue to be national sales manager, overseeing the company's wholesalers and handling business development, Mr. Kocher said, and Pam Buchanan will continue running national account management.
Mr. Kocher was selected because of his seniority and his quarter of a century of experience in the financial services industry, Mr. Greenawalt said.
Before joining Kemper in 1997, Mr. Kocher had been an executive vice president at Bisys Fund Services, an executive vice president at Star Bank in Cincinnati, president and chief executive of Central Trust Co. in Cincinnati, and vice chairman of PNC Bank.
He lives in South Carolina and will fly to Chicago several times a month.
Mr. Kocher said he plans to emphasize training, especially for the individual sales representatives. Kemper plans to add two wholesalers shortly to help conduct the expanded training.
Mr. Kocher said Kemper will keep its bank distribution operations separate from its brokerage and financial planner distribution at least for the next two years while the changes resulting from bank and brokerage mergers shake out.
"We think it's a little early in the equation to say we need to collapse all the divisions,'' Mr. Kocher said.
Mr. Kocher predicted that overall mutual fund sales through banks will increase in coming years because "banks are getting much smarter in this business.''
He pointed to First Union Corp. and BankAmerica Corp. as examples of enlightened banks that are letting their brokerages operate more like wire houses than conservative units of conservative institutions.
An important question is what effect Internet sales will have on the intermediary-sold funds business.
"That's a dilemma for all of us because the Internet is becoming a very potent force,'' he said.
Kemper had $1.2 billion of sales through banks in 1998.