EPIC Advisors Inc. will be working with 401kDirect Inc. to offer small and midsize banks more collective investment fund investment services and support services.

EPIC, Rochester, N.Y., and 401kDirect, Campbell, Calif., say the new service will help regional banks compete harder against insurers and other companies for retirement plan business, by helping them take advantage of new federal cost disclosure rules.

Because the administrative costs associated with collective investment funds tend to be low, banks that use the funds may be able to compete more effectively in an environment in which all players must disclose their fees, the companies say.

In other alliance news:

- MVP Financial Services Inc., Glenview, Ill., a life insurance brokerage firm, has selected Settlements for Life L.L.C., Memphis, Tenn., to be its broker of choice for life settlement transactions.

- Chernoff Diamond & Company L.L.C., Garden City, N.Y., is now a provisional member of M Financial Group, Portland, Ore.

Chernoff Diamond is a benefits consulting firm that was founded in 1976.

M Financial is a marketing consortium for life insurance agencies and other financial services firms.