Riggs Investment Management Corp. is celebrating the one-year anniversary of a restructuring that champions freedom for money managers.

Washington's Riggs National Corp. last year handed over the reins of its asset management firm, known as Rimco, to its money managers. The $4.8 billion-asset banking company is one of a handful of banks that have recently adopted this strategy, which observers say is an appropriate way for banks to approach the money management market.

Riggs takes 30% of Rimco's revenues for itself, and Rimco keeps the rest to handle its expenses, including compensation, on its own.

Rimco's chief executive, Philip D. Tasho, said working autonomously is fueling the unit's growth.

"We have $3 billion (in assets under management). I want to double that by 1998," Mr. Tasho said.

Money managers, an entrepreneurial lot, have a reputation for fierce independence and have a long record of walking out on their bank parents. Indeed, Rimco had its own chapter in that history.

Mr. Tasho and managing director Clifford W. Dyhouse returned to Rimco last year after defecting to Shawmut Investment Advisers in 1994.

They came home to a lonely shop. Several Rimco professionals had left to join Columbia Partners, also in Washington. But Mr. Tasho and Mr. Dyhouse came back because of the revenue-sharing program.

"I wanted to improve the structure, so it was in my interest to stay here, and I could attract key personnel," Mr. Tasho said. "They basically leave us alone to manage it."

Investment bankers agree that putting money managers in control creates the greatest incentive for a firm.

"I wouldn't be surprised at all if that accelerated growth" at Riggs, said Peter L. Bain, a principal of Berkshire Capital Corp.

Riggs' treatment of Rimco typifies the latest trend in bank- affiliated money management. This era was ushered in by Comerica Inc., which runs its asset management business through Munder Capital Management. Comerica took a minority stake in Munder in 1994. Other banks, including NationsBank Corp. and Chase Manhattan Corp., have followed suit, fashioning their institutional asset management complexes into somewhat autonomous boutiques.

Last week, Rimco hired Kathleen Neumann from Riggs' trust department as director of client services. Brian Shevlin was recently named director of fixed income, another newly created position.

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