Over the past three years, roughly 40 banking trade associations - state, regional, and national - have endorsed the services of investment product marketing firms. Their aim: to help members sort through the time- consuming, even mind-bending chore of finding a brokerage partner.

Such endorsements can be a boon to banks, greatly simplifying a potentially complicated decision that hundreds are expected to tackle in coming years. Even so, banks need to carefully weigh their choices.

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