Wells Fargo & Co. has signed a contract to hand over data processing for all its trust operations to SEI Corp.

The five-year deal is part of a trend that has seen the nation's largest banks increasingly call upon third parties to handle the computer operations behind specific lines of business.

The San Francisco-based bank has 75,000 trust accounts representing about $225 billion in assets.

The contract, whose financial terms were not disclosed, builds on a 20- year relationship between the bank and technology vendor.

In the past, Wells had used SEI's Trust 3000 software while handling its own data processing.

The in-house arrangement was designed to ensure the bank had quick access to its account information.

Bank executives expect to retain that access under the new arrangement. "Advances in technology and networking over the last few years facilitate access to information no matter where it's located," said Harry Thomas, vice president of trust operations at Wells.

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