In an unusual move, Banco Popular has chosen two rival marketing firms to propel the bank into the retail investment-product business.

Banco Popular is using Marketing One, Portland, Ore., to start what is believed to he the first investment-product sales program in branches on the bank's home island of Puerto Rico.

On the mainland, Banco Popular tapped Invest Financial Corp., Tampa, Fla., to launch an investment program in the crowded New York City market.

Banco Popular, the chief unit of Banponce Corp., feels the "personalities" of Marketing One and Invest are conducive to the respective areas they were chosen for, said executive vice president David H. Chafey.

Two Sources of Advice

Mr. Chafey declined to elaborate, though he did say that using two firms will allow the bank to pick up twice as many pointers for an investment product program it ultimately plans to run itself.

"We expect to eventually have our own broker-dealer," Mr. Chafey said.

Marketing One and Invest are among the largest and most experienced firms that supply banks with brokerage services and salespeople.

Both companies say they are happy to play any part in the Banco Popular rollout, which apparently comes after considerable review.

"We evaluated many, many" marketing firms before deciding on Marketing One and Invest, Mr. Chafey said.

Banco Popular believes its program with Marketing One is the first full-fledged effort by a bank to deliver investment products to residents of Puerto Rico.

Marketing One set up a separate subsidiary - Marketing One of Puerto Rico - to oversee six sales representatives who cover 20 of Banco Popular's 132 branches on the 100-mile-long island.

The representatives offer a variety of mutual funds and annuities, said William P. Martina, the Marketing One vice president who is overseeing the program.

Bilingual Sales Reps

The venture posed some challenges to Marketing One, which had to hire bilingual sales representatives and make sure marketing materials carried information in English and Spanish, Mr. Martina said.

But when it comes to investors, their concerns appear similar to those of U.S. customers.

Island residents are most interested in retirement planning and saving for their children's college educations, he said:

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