U.S. Clearing Corp. said it will expand its Chicago operations to better serve midwestern banks and brokerages.

The expansion will enable U.S. Clearing to handle an expanding client base, which grew by 22% last year, to 330 customers.

U.S. Clearing, a unit of Quick & Reilly Group Inc., will offer a full range of sales and trading services.

It opened a Chicago office a year ago to support its stock-loan business but quickly outgrew the facility.

This was the firm's first regional center outside New York.

The Chicago office will serve 18 states in the Midwest and south-central United States. John A. Masi, with 35 years of securities experience and 10 years at U.S. Clearing, will oversee the office.

"The expansion of our Chicago office ... is evidence of our commitment to move beyond the traditional role of a clearing firm and align our growth with that of our clients," said Leslie C. Quick 3d, U.S. Clearing's president and chief operating officer, in an announcement of the plan.

That growth includes the growing number of bank-owned brokerage subsidiaries. Nearly one-third of the company's customers-about 100-are banks, said spokesman Charles G. Salmans.

U.S. Clearing, through its brokerage services division, has two programs for banks and brokerages in which it acts as third-party broker-in effect, saving the company the cost of hiring registered representatives. One plan refers customers to U.S. Clearing; the other handles transaction clearance and execution.

Also, the Independent Bankers Association of America, with 5,000 bank members, has a discount brokerage plan for community banks that is served by U.S. Clearing. IBAA Financial Services offers banks registered representatives, and U.S. Clearing does the transaction processing.

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