Banks' mutual fund strategies are starting to attract attention from stock analysts.

In its Commercial Bank Monthly for June, Merrill Lynch & Co. focused on the mutual fund business as a major component of banks' efforts to boost fee income.

The report by Judah S. Kraushaar, Livia S. Asher, and Sandra J. Flannigan noted that while banks have been involved with mutual funds for years, bank-sponsored funds have only recently begun to proliferate.

"While latecomers to the mutual fund business may find developing scale difficult, current top providers . . . already appear to have sufficient scale," said the report. It listed PNC Bank Corp., BankAmerica Corp., NationsBank Corp., and Wells Fargo & Co. as industry leaders.

Edward B. Kramer, a 22-year veteran of the New York banking scene, has joined TRI-ARC Financial Services as executive vice president.

TRI-ARC provides insurance and investment services to financial institutions. Mr. Kramer will manage the Philadelphia-based firm's new office in New Rochelle, N.Y.

TRI-ARC is expanding into the New York metropolitan area after acquiring the consumer-products business of Sedgwick James, a financial services firm, Mr. Kramer said in a telephone interview. The deal gave TRI-ARC 13 new accounts, including Chase Manhattan Bank, Dime Savings Bank of New York, and Peoples Bancorp of Connecticut.

The company specializes in helping banks "find the right products from the right company and understand how to properly market them to their customers," Mr. Kramer said. Products it offers include annuities, group life insurance, and automobile insurance.

Until last year, Mr. Kramer was a senior vice president at Dime, where he managed the residential mortgage origination and mortgage servicing business. He had previously been Dime's marketing director.

He previously worked for the New York Savings League and the New York State Banking Department.

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