Magazine article American Banker

Wamu Preparing to Integrate Ahmanson's Brokerage Operation

Magazine article American Banker

Wamu Preparing to Integrate Ahmanson's Brokerage Operation

Article excerpt

By NIAMH RING For the second time in just over a year, Washington Mutual Inc.'s investments unit will undergo a makeover after an acquisition by its parent.

On Jan. 1, Wamu, as the Seattle thrift company is known, plans to integrate Griffin Financial Services, the brokerage unit of H.F. Ahmanson & Co., into its WM Financial Services unit. Griffin brings 180 Series 7- licensed brokers to Wamu, boosting its sales force to 480, said J. Pamela Dawson, president of WM Financial Services.

Wamu bought Ahmanson of Irwindale, Calif., on Oct. 1 for about $6.9 billion. The deal followed closely on the heels of Wamu's 1997 acquisition of Great Western Financial Corp., which also boosted the Seattle company's investments unit.

Ahmanson more than doubles, to 1,200, the number of platform brokers selling fixed annuity products in Wamu branches, Ms. Dawson said. As a result of the Ahmanson deal, the thrift has 1,200 branches in eight states.

Wamu also snares from Griffin a new fixed annuity product, which will be renamed the WM Income Builder. The Griffin name will be absorbed into WM Financial Services, Ms. Dawson said.

In February, Wamu plans to merge the back-office and clearing capabilities of both brokerages. That will require switching account clearing for Griffin customers from National Financial Services Corp., a division of Fidelity Investments, Boston, to BHC Securities Inc., Philadelphia, the Seattle thrift's back-office provider, said Ms. Dawson.

Ms. …

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