In moves meant to link their brokerage units more closely with other retail operations, Keycorp and Meridian Bancorp have named veteran consumer bankers to manage investment product sales.

Keycorp in February quietly replaced brokerage chief John Mastriani with Jack Kopnisky, who was president of the company's Cincinnati bank. Mr. Mastriani resigned as head of Keycorp's brokerage a few months after the company's merger last year with Society Corp.

Last month Meridian named David E. Dietrich, a longtime retail executive at the banking company, to head the investment program. Mr. Dietrich replaced Richard Munoz, who had managed Meridian's branch-based investment product sales program since its 1992 inception. Mr. Munoz and bank officials declined to say whether he left on his own accord or was pushed.

The appointments highlight an emerging trend: to closely integrate retail brokerage and banking operations. To this end, more banks are tapping retail banking executives to oversee branch-based investment product sales units, industry analysts say.

The integration allows banks to become "very focused" at offering a full range of financial services, including deposits, checking accounts, mutual funds, said P. Sue Perrotty, group executive vice president at Meridian, and Mr. Dietrich's boss.

Mr. Dietrich's appointment "fits our broader view of how consumers do business with us," Ms. Perrotty said.

She added that by naming Mr. Dietrich, who has spent two decades with the Reading, Pa., banking company, Meridian is signaling to employees its commitment to investment products.

Meridian began offering mutual funds and annuities in 1992. Its investment product sales effort now covers 320 branches in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

Executives at Keycorp also say the appointment of a seasoned retail banker will strengthen the Cleveland-based banking company's commitment to mutual funds.

Mr. Kopnisky's "understanding of our delivery system will help us bring investment products to customers throughout our franchise," Henry L. Meyer 3d, senior executive vice president, said in a memorandum to Keycorp staff.

Mr. Kopnisky will oversee investment product efforts, including sales of Keycorp's Victory funds, through 1,300 branches in 25 states.

The brokerage chief may also consider reducing the number of mutual funds from other fund companies that Keycorp sells, a spokeswoman said.

One veteran securities executive said banks would be better off if they linked their investment programs more closely to other retail services. But, he added, banks should use dyed-in-the-wool brokers, rather than bankers, to run investment sales efforts.

"Brokers are steeped in the kind of sales and marketing culture that's needed" for an investment program, said the executive, Brewster Ellis, president of the financial institutions division of Robert Thomas Securities, St. Petersburg, Fla.

"No one denies there is a culture gap between banking and brokerage," Mr. Ellis said. "But the effort should be to bridge that gap, not widen it" by appointing mainstream bankers as brokerage chiefs.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.