Big banks are not the only ones looking to buy their way into investment management.

Richmond County Financial Corp., a $2.8 billion-asset thrift holding company based in Staten Island, N.Y., last week bought a 47% equity stake in Peter B. Cannell & Co., a New York investment boutique.

The deal gives customers at Richmond's three banking subsidiaries access to the additional asset management expertise at Cannell, which manages $460 million of assets, mainly in equity index funds.

The purchase brings the thrift company strength in asset management for an "insignificant" sum, said Thomas R. Cangemi, its chief financial officer.

Richmond County Financial will receive a portion of the asset management fees generated by the customers it refers to Cannell, Mr. Cangemi said. He declined to disclose the terms of the deal or the revenue-sharing agreement, but said the banking company expects a 15% return on its investment.

Richmond County Financial, the parent of Richmond County Savings Bank, expanded its reach into New Jersey this year by buying Ironbound Bancorp in Newark and Bayonne Bancshares in Bayonne.

Bayonne's investment division sells third-party mutual funds and annuities through its Bayonne Service Corp.subsidiary. Mr. Cangemi said Richmond County Financial is also considering expanding the program to all its branches within a year.

Richmond County Financial operates 25 branches in Staten Island, in Brooklyn, N.Y., and in Bayonne, Newark, and Elizabeth, N.J.

Geoffrey H. Bobroff, managing principal of Bobroff Consulting in East Greenwich, R.I., said buying into an investment firm makes sense-even for a relatively small banking company-provided it is not a substantial drain on capital.

"The community bank structure aligns itself with the money management structure," he said.

For investment managers the draw is access to a ready customer base, Mr. Bobroff said. And a relationship with an investment firm gives the bank more opportunities to attract and keep customers, he said.

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