More banks are asking employees who aren't directly involved with mutual funds and annuities to serve on committees that choose these products for branches.

"It helps to have different areas know what the other is doing," said Eugene "Trip" Purcell 3d, vice president of trust marketing at BB&T Financial Corp.

The Wilson, N.C., bank company includes its chief financial officer, marketing head, and a regional president on the investment oversight committee that evaluates investment products.

The committee also contains obvious choices, like the head of the bank's broker-dealer, a senior trust officer, a portfolio manager, and the head of insurance products.

Important Jobs

Product-selection committees like the one at BB&T perform due diligence on mutual fund companies, and life insurance carriers that offer annuities.

The committees check out companies' financial health, investment strategies and, hopefully, whether any problems are on the horizon. Product-selection committees, when doing their job well, periodically re-evaluate investment companies they've recommended.

Chemical Bank's selection committee excludes employees who are not otherwise involved with investment products. The committee was formed last spring, when the New York bank teamed up with Liberty Financial, Boston, to step up investment product sales in branches.

But now that the new investment program is under way. Chemical is reconsidering the committee's membership policy, said Peter Wall, director of investment research and development for Chemical Investment Services.

The committee man, include financial or marketing executives, or even branch managers, Mr. Wall said. "With any product sold in branches it's important for branch personnel, including managers, to be comfortable with it."

Chemical, like most banks, relies on officers and other upper echelon employees for its committee.

Going Further

Dime Savings Bank takes a somewhat different tack, including rank and file securities sales-people.

Dime's committee includes two salespeople, in addition to a sales manager, an insurance administrator, and Warren Bausert.

Mr. Bausert, chairman of the committee, is business development manager for the New York thrift's broker-dealer. He said the inclusion of salespeople makes sense, since "they're on the front lines, working with these products."

Their inclusion also fosters team spirit, according to Mr. Bausert, who likens the committee to umpires in a major league baseball game.

"If you don't notice them, they did a good job," he said.

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