While many banks are jettisoning their fund business and using the open-architecture approach to investment products, Commerce Wealth has other ideas.

The new head of Commerce Bancorp's wealth management unit said that despite industrywide consolidation and tepid markets, he expects his unit will grow at a faster pace than the parent company.

"To experience wealth management growth, we are going to aggressively expand our sales force," said Stan Gregor, the president and chief executive of Commerce Capital Markets. "We want to mirror where the bank is growing and look for opportunities beyond that."

Commerce, of Cherry Hill, N.J., hired Gregor from Banc of America Investment Services, where he had run the Quick & Reilly brokerage in Manhattan the past three and a half years.

He said he had been impressed by Commerce's growth. The $33.4 billion-asset company has 330 branches in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Washington, and Virginia. This year it has expanded into Connecticut and Lehigh Valley, Pa.; it has opened 10 branches so far in 2005 and plans to open 40 more by yearend.

Gregor, 40, said Commerce Capital Markets, which is also in Cherry Hill, should do well in the states where Commerce Bancorp has established itself.

"Eventually and if the right opportunity comes along, we will look beyond, but right now there is so much opportunity in the footprint for us," he said. "We want to increase our wallet share with our existing customers.

"I think there are so many different ways to service these customers. I don't want to use the phrase 'one-stop shopping,' but I would love that when our clients think of financial services or if they have a financial services need, that they think of Commerce. That is my goal."

Gregor was the president and CEO of Quick & Reilly, a unit Bank of America acquired when it bought FleetBoston. While at BoA and Fleet, he helped Quick & Reilly develop from a discount broker to a full-service company with revenue of $400 million.

He said Commerce Capital Markets will expand rapidly by adding more investment choices and increasing distribution.

"I expect we'll grow the asset management unit at a quicker rate than the bank will grow because we are growing it from a smaller base," he said.

"Our game plan is a combination of more people and more products. We intend to dramatically enhance our product offering to suit our customers' needs while also looking to expand on the management side and on the sales side the number of individuals that are working here. We are in a major recruiting and expansion mode in this organization."

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