IFC Holdings Inc., Tampa, which owns two of the nation's largest third- party marketing firms, has hired 17 auditors from Arthur Andersen to check branch compliance.

The company, parent of Invest Financial Corp. and Investment Centers of America, had seven field examiners covering more than 1,100 branches.

"It was a costly process and potentially somewhat of an inefficient process," said Robert R. Blagojevich, IFC's president and chief executive. Now, he said, "we can cover more ground faster."

The field examiners were reassigned to Tampa, where they will help review the exams, relaying the results to more than 400 financial institution clients.

Client reaction to the program was mixed. Kenneth P. Nelson, executive vice president of Bremer Financial Services Inc., St. Paul, said he was pleased that Invest would use an independent company that is recognized nationally in accounting compliance.

"That just gives me some assurance that what we're doing is proper and correct," he said.

Stephen Angelis, president of CCB Investor Services, Durham, N.C., said he did not see any selling advantage.

IFC also announced that it had hired Debra Williamson, 39, as chief compliance officer. She had been vice president and chief compliance officer with Signet Financial Services, Richmond, Va.

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