George W. Grosz, the architect of Riggs National Bank's asset management unit, has taken charge of Meridian Bancorp's, asset management subsidiary.

Mr. Grosz, 56, said the Reading, Pa., banking company attracted him because of its stable management team and its commitment to the growth of fee income.

As the subsidiary's president he replaces Robert C. Williams who retired late last year after 31 years in banking.

"I think the challenge is to do a better job of telling the marketplace about Meridian Asset Management," Mr. Grosz said.

A Pioneer

The unit was formed in 1984, marking one of the first times that a bank pooled trust services, investment, and brokerage activities under one roof.

Now, the unit boasts $27.5 billion in assets under management. The bank's proprietary mutual fund family, the Conestoga Funds, has $607 million in assets.

With all the basic elements of the program in place, the main jobs now are expansion and fine-tuning, Mr. Grosz said. For example, he wants to spur growth in both the trust asset management business and the fund family.

"This is a good operation and we just want to make it better," he said.

At Riggs, by contrast, Mr. Grosz built everything from the ground up.

He formed Riggs Investment Management Co. and brought assets under management to $2.4 billion.

He also created a line of proprietary mutual funds that now have about $700 million in assets.

Opportunity Knocked

Mr. Grosz said he wasn't looking to leave Riggs when a search firm approached him. The more he learned, the more he liked the opportunity.

For one thing, he feels a certain kinship with Samuel McCullough, chief executive of Meridian, and Ezekiel S. Ketchum, president and chief operation officer.

"I started about the same time as they did with Mellon Bank," he noted. In 1957 Mr. Grosz was a trust officer with Mellon. Ten years later he moved to First City National Bank of Houston to start a corporate trust department.

He Grosz says his departure from Riggs was unrelated to the recent resignation of that company's chief executive, Paul Homan. Mr. Homan announced plans to leave the Washington, D.C., company just 11 months into a turnaround effort.

As he expands Meridian's fund business, Mr. Grosz starts with a product line of predominately money market funds. He said some new long-term funds are already under consideration.

Meridian continues to evaluate conversions of trust assets into the fund family, Mr. Grosz added. That could bring as much as $2 billion more to the family, he said.

He said new products for the 401(k) market also will be explored.

Mr. Moore is a freelance writer based in Vassalboro, Maine.

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