AKRON, Ohio - Felice Larmer concedes that FirstMerit Corp.'s commercial clients are not lining up to buy insurance from the $10 billion-asset banking company.

But FirstMerit is starting to collect referral fees - and may be laying the groundwork for future insurance sales - through a venture it entered just over a year ago with the Cleveland agency James B. Oswald Co. Insurance sales are "very low, but right now that's not the point," said Ms. Larmer, president of FirstMerit Investment Services.

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