PFF Bank and Trust in Pomona, Calif., has tapped Duerr Financial to run its investment products sales program, ending a one-year relationship with another third-party marketing firm, Independent Financial Marketing Group.

Irvine, Calif.-based Duerr will take over the program Nov. 1. Through a subsidiary, PFF Insurance Service, PFF offers its customers mutual funds as well as fixed- and variable-rate annuities.

The community bank launched its investment products program in August 1995 with Independent Financial. First-year sales topped $40 million.

Sales were "exceptional," said Lynda Scullin, the investment products program manager at PFF. But with Independent Financial, she added, "We didn't get some of the hands-on service that we expected and really needed as a new program."

More specifically, Ms. Scullin said there was "some uncertainty" at Independent Financial "as to who was going to be doing what." She attributed that to the company's acquisition in March by Liberty Financial Cos., a Boston insurance company.

After the merger, when the production manager assigned to PFF left Independent Financial, "no one was hired to replace him," Ms. Scullin explained. "The resources weren't there when we were starting up our program."

Independent's chief executive officer, Dennis Kaplan, said he was sorry to lose PFF as a client.

"Pomona has made the decision to try something else, and we respect that," he said. "Sometimes we try to be everything to banks, and sometimes it just doesn't go," Mr. Kaplan said.

Independent, which looks after its West Coast banks through an office in Portland, Ore., did replace the manager assigned to PFF several months after the Liberty deal.

Ms. Scullin said PFF is now looking to Duerr to help it "bring life insurance products to our client base and to attract customers from outside the bank."

She said she chose the company because of its California location and because it plans to supply the bank with a highly customized program. "There's a lot to be said about being able to work face to face with your partner," Ms. Scullin said.

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