Marquette Bancshares, taking a step toward bringing its investment sales program in-house, has acquired a securities brokerage.

Terms of the deal for Offerman & Co. were not disclosed. The banking company and the brokerage - both of which are based in Minneapolis - are privately held.

Marquette, with $1.3 billion of assets, offers retail investments through an arrangement with PrimeVest Financial Services, St. Cloud, Minn., which provides brokerage services to more than 600 banks.

On Aug. 22, Marquette will transfer its retail brokerage business - including 25 brokers now licensed through PrimeVest - to Marquette Investment Services. The investment arm, currently part of Marquette's trust subsidiary, will become a unit of Offerman, which has more than 100 independent contract brokers licensed in 48 states.

In opting to run its own brokerage, Marquette is following the lead of dozens of large and midsize banks that have ended their reliance on so- called third-party marketers.

PrimeVest and a handful of other marketing firms have helped thousands of banks launch into sales of mutual funds, stocks, bonds, and annuities over the past 15 years. These firms essentially act as brokerages-for-hire, helping banks set up and run investment programs and sharing in the revenues.

But in the past few years, as banks have gained experience with sales programs, many - particularly those with more than $1 billion of assets - have cut their ties to third-party marketers. A Marquette executive said it was time for the bank to follow suit.

"It's a strategic choice at the size we're at," said Margaret Murphy, senior vice president of marketing and sales administration of Marquette Bank. The deal for Offerman "brings several things to us, including the ability to own this expertise ourselves and to grow and control our own destiny."

For PrimeVest, the move means the loss of one of its larger full- service brokerage clients. The company, a unit of Reliastar Financial Corp., Minneapolis, chiefly serves community banks with assets of $500 million or less. Reliastar did not disclose PrimeVest's 1996 revenues, but did state a 73% increase over the prior year. PrimeVest's 1995 total sales volume was $2 billion, according to American Brokerage Consultants.

"There is a growing concern for third-party marketers that as your client grows, it gets to be a better case for them financially to leave you," said Jeb Britton 3d, a senior consultant with San Francisco-based Spectrem Group. "Now that the bank owns the brokerage, they don't have to share revenues."

PrimeVest declined to say how much business it does through Marquette or how high the banking company ranks on its roster of clients. But as a full- service brokerage client, Marquette is among a select group; in 1995 about two-thirds of PrimeVest's bank clients used the firm for discount brokerage services only, according to data from American Brokerage Consultants, St. Petersburg, Fla.

Marquette is a subsidiary of Pohlad Financial Group, a $4 billion-asset banking company owned by Minneapolis businessman Jim Pohlad. The Marquette Investment Services program will be extended to all 29 Pohlad family-owned banks in Arizona, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin, said Ms. Murphy.

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