National City Corp. has put its private client group and its brokerage and investment bank under a new umbrella unit with an emphasis on sales.

The new wealth management group is headed by Herbert J. Martens Jr., the chairman of Natcity Investments, the Cleveland-based broker-dealer subsidiary that handles retail investments and investment banking. National City Corp., a $50 billion-asset banking company, has $18 billion of client assets under management.

A newly formed financial planning group will be the linchpin of the wealth management group. The 13 planners represent a shift to big-picture customer service from single-product sales, according to Mr. Martens. The financial planning group is part of the private client group, which serves accounts of more than $500,000.

In all, 1,200 lenders, trust officers, brokers, financial planners, and investment bankers report to Mr. Martens. Previously, the private client group's staff of 805 worked exclusively for executive vice president Jeffrey M. Biggar, who now reports to Mr. Martens.

"Everybody is saying, 'Why weren't we doing this before?,' " Mr. Martens said. "When you have a lot of different bosses, you have a different focus. Now we don't have that anymore."

Last fall, Mr. Biggar integrated trust, investments, and lending for wealthy people under the umbrella of the private client group.

Now, for the first time, Natcity investment bankers are systematically meeting with its private bankers for leads and have begun making joint sales calls. The obvious connection between the clientele-private individuals who have closely held companies-was previously overlooked.

"Everybody else talks about the stockbroker, not the private banker," Mr. Martens said, "forgetting the fact that the private banker has-not in their hip pocket, but on a relationship basis-most of the people our investment bankers want to talk to."

The investment bankers had revenues of $47 million last year from 240 transactions. National City has a 30% share of the banking market for Midwest companies with annual sales of $5 million to $50 million.

Observers said that they were impressed by the direction National City is moving in, but that many intermediate steps must be taken to resolve confusion over how to price products and services, compensate bankers who are sharing clients, and avoid conflicts of interest.

"It's a logical move, but it's not a move a lot of banks have made. It tends to be a big turf issue," said William R. White, a senior consultant in the New York office of Spectrem Group.

But Mr. Martens plans to open up various services of the bank to all its customers.

"If we call up an executive and say, 'Hey, you want a trust account?'" he said, "that hang-up is quicker than calling somebody and asking if they want to buy insurance," he said.

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