What a difference a year makes. Last year at this time, the financial press was trumpeting how banks were going all-in on wealth management. American Banker Magazine last March: “Banks of all sizes are expanding their wealth management businesses, seeking to deepen customer relationships and anticipating a tremendous intergenerational transfer of wealth.” Rob Wrzesniewski, head of global banking solutions at SEI: This transfer “has elevated wealth management as a strategic focus—and that’s at all banks, not just large national and global institutions… It’s driving bank leadership to look at wealth management as a growth engine.”
That’s not what we’re hearing now when we talk with the leadership of the wealth management practices in banks and credit unions. We hear pushback from the top of the house about cannibalizing deposits, hiring freezes, travel bans to industry conferences and provider meetings, squeezing broker dealer expenses to make the institution’s quarterly profit targets, again, and a shift from a build or buy strategy to a partnership strategy for growth.
But in the trenches, investment services directors, heads of Personal Trust, chief private banking officers and other executives who manage parts of the institution’s wealth management enterprise are trying to find ways to reverse the long downward slide in the bank share of the wealth management business and create a better client experience. Is it fine-tuning the traditional wealth management silos aligned with segments identified for different levels of service? Creating an integrated wealth management sales force? A unified wealth management processing platform? Rebuilding wealth management around an RIA platform? Or all of the above?
The Kehrer Group convenes a study group of financial institution and provider executives who are working through these issues, and sharing their initiatives.