October 31, 2014

Sector Portrait: Private Banking

Richard Westlund | 4/1/2010
In the past few years, the wave of mergers, takeovers and bankruptcies sweeping through the nation's financial sector has reshaped Florida's private banking landscape. Bank of America acquired U.S. Trust in 2007. Wells Fargo took over Wachovia, and JPMorgan Chase bought Washington Mutual in 2008. Last year, Pittsburgh-based PNC expanded its private banking franchise after acquiring National City Corp.

What's emerging is a financial sector with three distinct tiers: National/regional banks; local boutique banks; and a handful of midsize Florida or Southeast-based institutions serving a few geographic markets. All see plenty of opportunity in Florida.

 "For decades, Florida has been a favorite destination for affluent retirees and second-home buyers, and that's a trend that won't change anytime soon," says Craig Sutherland, president of BNY Mellon's Southeast region in Miami. Last year, the New York-based institution opened offices in Tampa and Naples. "We're in good shape to continue organic growth and are looking at potential acquisitions as well."

Midtier institutions like Orlando-based Seaside National Bank & Trust, a private bank with 13 Florida offices, are growing as well. CEO Gideon Haymaker says Seaside recently raised $40 million for expansion.

Key to successful growth is a reputation for good service. "This is a relationship-based business that requires banking professionals to have a high degree of empathy" with clients — and a keen understanding of local markets, says Steven Hayworth, chairman and CEO of Gibraltar Private Bank & Trust in Miami.

Service can be even more important than an institution's size, says Tony Atkins, CEO of GulfSouth Private Bank in Destin. "Our bank has a lower volume of transactions, which allows us to really focus on the needs of each client." Formed in 2006, GulfSouth recently opened its fourth office in Pensacola.

In the competition for clients, money center banks will try to capitalize on their ability to offer a wide range of products and services. "There is still a lot of uncertainty regarding financial markets and the economy," says Zachary D. Lazar Jr., president of the Midwest and Florida for Harris Private Bank, which has offices in Naples, Sarasota and West Palm Beach. "We believe investors will be driven to firms that offer safety, stability and a strong track record of quality financial planning."


BNY Mellon Wealth Management

  • Florida headquarters: Miami
  • Top Florida private banking executive: Craig Sutherland
  • Assets under management:
    $154 billion nationally; $4 billion in Florida
  • Target investor: $5 million in investable assets and $100 million or more for family offices
  • Recent news: BNY Mellon has opened two new offices in Florida for a total of seven. It hired Timothy Goering as Florida managing director in its West Palm Beach office.
Craig Sutherland
Craig Sutherland

"We feel it is important for our clients not to abandon equities and to have the right mix of assets in their portfolios. And increasingly that mix should include global equities to capture the tremendous growth we expect to see internationally in the coming years."

— Craig Sutherland, president, Southeast U.S.

Tags: Banking & Finance

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