In a drive to capture more revenue, United Bankshares of Parkersburg, W. Va., plans to join the growing number of banks that have taken their brokerage operations in-house.
Currently, United's retail investment program is managed by Acordia National, a Charleston subsidiary of Acordia Inc., an Indianapolis insurance broker.
But starting in January, the $1.8 billion-asset bank intends to go it alone, according to chief executive Richard Adams.
"We know a lot more about the brokerage business now to go about it on our own," he said.
Like other banks that that have abandoned the companies which originally set up their brokerages, United no longer want to share revenues with a third-party marketer. The bank also wants more oversight of brokers to protect itself from potential liability suits, he said.
Mr. Adams said brokerage unit will be further strengthened by the pending acquisition of $383 million-asset Eagle Bancorp, Charleston, which would add eight branches to the 39 United has now.
Currently, United's investment program is comprised of five brokers employed by Acordia who sell the annuities and mutual funds of Federated Investors, Pittsburgh.
The insurance company gave United 30% of the brokers' commissions, said Todd Stewart, the banking company's assistant treasurer.
But the bank wants more revenue, and it wants to offer customers more investment services than just annuities and a single company's mutual funds.
"We had a huge customer base that was going to Merrill Lynch & Co., Prudential Securities, and Legg Mason," Mr. Stewart said.
The company received approval to set up its own broker-dealer from the Comptroller's office a month ago, and is awaiting a green light from the National Association of Securities Dealers.
Mr. Stewart, who has been managing the bank's commercial investment portfolio, will be president of the new unit, to be called United Brokerage Services Inc.
Mr. Stewart projects the company can generate $1 million in commissions in its first year, based on Acordia's annual results. Under its current contract with Acordia, the bank would receive only $300,000 of that amount.
Mr. Stewart said he would like to sell annuities of insurance companies beyond Acordia, and he wants to offer bank customers 35 different mutual fund families. He also plans to set up a discount brokerage operation, which will offer stocks and bonds.
Mr. Stewart plans to hire six or seven brokers to sell annuities, and mutual funds, and government securities to the bank's retail customer base. In addition, he plans to hire four registered investment advisers, who will manage the assets of wealthy clients and the pension plans of small municipalities.
He also plans to retain a firm to train the bank's brokers.