Advanta Corp., the nation's 14th-largest credit card marketer, has gone outside the financial services industry to find its latest senior executive.

The Horsham, Pa.-based consumer financial services company has hired William A. Rosoff, a partner in the Philadelphia law firm Wolf, Block, Schorr & Solis-Cohen.

Mr. Rosoff, 52, will begin working for Advanta early next year as director and vice chairman.

He will join Advanta's triumvirate of senior executives - Alex W. "Pete" Hart, chief executive officer; Dennis Alter, chairman; and Richard A. Greenawalt, president and chief operating officer - to form strategy on projects in the United States and abroad.

Advanta made its first international foray this summer by entering a joint credit card issuing venture with Royal Bank of Scotland. The company has been looking in a dozen other countries for similar joint ventures.

"His unique blend of legal skills and business judgment will be of immense value as we continue to grow and prosper here and broad," Mr. Alter said in a release.

When Advanta announced its intention to expand overseas this summer, said Janet Point, an Advanta spokeswoman, it generated a good deal of interest among potential partners. She said Mr. Rosoff's legal background in dealing with mergers and acquisitions and his 20-year relationship with the company were important reasons why he was hired.

"He's here to add insight at a strategic level with a legal perspective," Ms. Point said.

Industry followers pointed out that appointing someone with a legal background to the company's top echelon was unusual. Other card specialists, such as MBNA Corp., First USA, and Capital One Financial Corp., have sought marketers and financial services executives as leaders.

Since his arrival at Advanta in March 1994, Mr. Hart has recruited top names in the industry, including James Allhusen, executive vice president of international business development and John F. Mullady to run RBS Advanta in Edinburgh.

Advanta is coming off its 25th consecutive quarter of record earnings, including a 62% increase in managed credit card receivables, to $8.3 billion more than the level of September 1994. The company said it added some 263,000 credit card accounts, bringing the total to 4.4 million.

Mr. Rosoff joined Wolf, Block, Schorr & Solis-Cohen, a firm known for its work on banking and financial services cases, in 1969. Since that time, he has served as chairman of its executive committee. Currently, he is a member of that committee and chairman of the firm's tax department.

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