Whitney Holding Corp. of New Orleans said it would start selling an expanded array of investment products by mid-September, as it applies to join the National Association of Securities Dealers Inc.

The $5.2 billion-asset banking company already sells from a limited roster of investment products, including U.S. Treasury securities and municipal bonds.

Having a full-fledged brokerage will broaden its relationship with clients and help attract people who "in the past Whitney has been unable to fully serve," said David J. Palozzola, the president of Whitney Securities.

This is the "next logical step" in Whitney's quest to become a full-service financial institution, he added.

Whitney faces stiff competition from wire houses and other banking companies with brokerage units in its neighborhood -- Hibernia National Corp., Bank One Corp., and Regions Financial Corp, to name a few.

Viewing brokerage as a competitive necessity, Whitney is venturing into the market despite challenges.

Whitney Securities will begin operating as a division of Whitney National Bank. It will apply for registration with the NASD, Mr. Palozzola said. This takes several months.

Initially the brokerage is to focus on selling products such as mutual funds and unit investment trusts but will expand into fixed and variable annuities and possibly wrap products. Stocks and options will be sold on a discount-only basis, Mr. Palozzola said.

There are to be four full-time brokers in Whitney's main office to handle full-service and discount orders. By yearend, it plans to hire three or four brokers exclusively for the discount side and others, as needed, to handle the full-service business, Mr. Palozzola said.

Whitney also will explore licensing bankers to sell fixed annuities and possibly mutual funds, though there is no definite time frame, he said.

The company has 116 branches in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.

Editor's Note: Computer errors garbled two Investment Products news briefs, including one related to this article, on page 8 of Friday's issue. Corrected versions of both appear on American Banker Online.

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