New England Life Insurance Co. has purchased a stake in Meca Software Inc., joining five major banks that control the company.

New England Life's $10 million investment in Meca, which makes Managing Your Money personal financial management software, represents an unusual partnership between banks and a potential competitor.

Analysts said the deal signals a trend in which banks and insurance providers will form alliances to offer complementary - or perhaps overlapping - services.

The bank owners of Meca, which is based in Fairfield, Conn., are NationsBank Corp., BankAmerica Corp., First Bank System Inc., Royal Bank of Canada, and Fleet Financial Group. New England Life is the only insurance company owner.

"I think we share a similar concern with banks, that the focal point of customer contact should be financial institutions and not the technology companies," said Peter N. Harrington, a spokesman for New England Life.

Mr. Harrington said the company, which recently merged with Metlife, plans to offer Managing Your Money software free to its 37 million customers starting in April.

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