A few years ago, John Noble never could have imagined that he'd be running the brokerage arm of a modest-size commercial bank. A two-decade veteran of Dean Witter, Smith Barney and UBS Financial Services, Noble had always thought that commercial banks, other than the very largest, had minor-league brokerage operations.

Yet in January, Noble left UBS, where he served as director and executive vice president for its Oregon branches, to take over as president of Strand Atkinson Williamson and York, the brokerage arm of the $8.6 billion-asset Umpqua Holdings Corp. in Portland, Ore. Since then, he has recruited 10 other representatives from other large brokerage houses, including UBS, Smith Barney and Merrill Lynch.

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