fund sales and annuities during the third quarter.

The Charlotte, N.C., banking company said sales of annuity products and mutual funds hit $215 million, up from $170 million a year earlier. The jump came despite the banking company's 19% decline in overall net income, which had been expected.

Donald A. McMullen Jr., the company's vice chairman and head of its capital management group, attributed the increase in investment product sales to the bank's ability to offer choices to customers.

"They're finding out they can do more than one thing with us," Mr. McMullen said. For example, he said, people come in to open a First Union Capital Management account -- a checking account linked to investment products -- and can consult brokers about a range of products.

William M. Ennis, chief operating officer of the capital management group and head of the bank's $78 billion Evergreen Funds, said the growth is fueled by the bank's ability to meld its manufacturing and distribution capabilities. He also attributed the spike to the company's bid to sell its investment products through 4,000 third parties, using a team of 60 wholesalers.

Both Mr. McMullen and Mr. Ennis declined to predict yearend numbers, though the acquisition this month of Chicago-based Everen Capital Corp. vaulted the company into sixth place among the nation's retail brokerage firms. First Union Securities now has about 6,300 brokers and $152 billion of customer assets in three million accounts.

-- Niamh Ring

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