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Sector Portrait: Private Banking

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.

Gibraltar Private Bank & Trust

  • Florida headquarters: Coral Gables
  • Top Florida private banking executive: Steven D. Hayworth
  • Assets under management: $792 million
  • Target investor: No minimum
  • Recent news: A group of private investors organized by Hayworth purchased 100% ownership of the bank from Boston Private Financial Holdings.

Steven D. Hayworth
Steven D. Hayworth

"Until we get some real clarity on unemployment, I believe the U.S. equities market will be volatile. Most analysts expect equities to be flat in 2010, perhaps ending the year a little bit lower."

— Steven D. Hayworth, chairman and CEO, Gibraltar Private Bank & Trust

SunTrust Banks

  • Florida headquarters: Orlando
  • Top Florida private banking executive: Debora M. Carswell
  • Assets under management: $31.4 billion statewide
  • Target investor: Individuals or families with investable assets of $1 million or more
  • Recent news: SunTrust has introduced LiveSolid.com, an online resource center.
Debora Carswell
Debora Carswell

"Our strategists see the momentum behind the economic recovery accelerating, and we believe the equity markets will climb a 'wall of worry' in 2010. Bond prices will likely see downward pressure from rising interest rates, especially in the second half of the year. On a relative basis, we favor corporate bonds over U.S. Treasuries."

— Debora Carswell, group executive
vice president and line of business manager

J.P. Morgan Private Bank

  • Florida headquarters: Miami
  • Top Florida private banking executive: Alvaro Martinez-Fonts
  • Assets under management: $20 billion in Florida; $400 billion nationwide
  • Target investor: No set minimum for high net worth investors
  • Recent news: Client assets increased by 12% to $683 billion worldwide in 2009. The bank gained 15% net new clients over the year and was named Euromoney's No. 1 private bank globally for ultra-high net worth individuals.
Alvaro Martinez-Fonts
Alvaro Martinez-Fonts

"For 2010, we expect a synchronized global economic recovery. Equity markets will likely offer positive returns given low inflation and a strong earnings outlook. We still expect elevated volatility and are tilting our equity holdings to the U.S. and Asia (excluding Japan) over Europe."

— Alvaro Martinez-Fonts, CEO

Gideon T. Haymaker
Gideon T. Haymaker
Seaside National Bank & Trust
  • Headquarters: Orlando
  • Top Florida private banking executive: Gideon T. Haymaker
  • Assets under management: $140 million
  • Target investor: Assets ranging from $500,000 to $10 million
  • Recent news: Seaside recently raised $40 million and formed a holding company, Three Shores Bancorporation.

"We are being quite defensive in the investment area. Stocks have enjoyed an exceptional run from the March '09 lows, but headwinds in the area of employment and excessive debt still persist. We like solid dividend-paying stocks."

— Gideon T. Haymaker, president and CEO

Citi Private Bank
  • Florida headquarters: Miami and Palm Beach
  • Top Florida private banking executive: Mark Maller
  • Assets under management: Would not disclose
  • Target investor: $25 million or more net worth
  • Recent news: Jane Fraser, chief executive of Citi Private Bank, was chosen as the most influential woman in finance at a Financial News event.

"We view Florida as an extremely important and growing market for ultra-high net worth clients. Accordingly, Citi Private Bank has dedicated significant resources to expanding our franchise in the state."

— Mark Maller, managing director

Fifth Third Bancorp?

  • Florida headquarters: Naples
  • Top Florida private banking executives: Robert Schoonmaker, senior vice president, south Florida; Mark Rhein, senior vice president, Tampa Bay; Gregory Broner, senior vice president, central Florida
  • Assets under management: More than $22 billion nationally
  • Target investor: Generally $1 million or more in investable assets
  • Recent news: Fifth Third Bancorp reported 2009 net income of $737 million. The banking company also announced that it extended $5.4 billion in loans in November.
John Augustine
John Augustine

"The global economy in 2010 is OK, and that should allow stocks of globally based companies to drift higher as well. We believe the recovery process is too far along for a double-dip recession to start this soon. Large, multinational companies that participate in the global economy could see decent top- and bottom-line growth during the year, while companies only focused on the domestic economy could see more challenges if the Fed starts its tightening cycle. "

— John Augustine, chief investment strategist

William R. Klich
William R. Klich
  • Florida headquarters: St. Petersburg
  • Top Florida private banking executive: Celeste Byers
  • Assets under management: Would not disclose
  • Target investor: More than $500,000 in investable assets
  • Recent news: BB&T plans to add offices in Sarasota, Naples and south Florida.

"While acknowledging the challenges facing all of us in Florida, we expect those same challenges to create even more demand for financial planning at all levels of family income. Coupled with our expanded Florida franchise, BB&T expects to grow organically."

— William R. Klich, state president, BB&T Florida, chairman, Florida Bankers Association

U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management

Top Florida private banking executives: Doug DiVirgilio, Southeast division; Brian Mormile, southeast Florida region, Miami; Gerri Moll, west/central region, Naples

  • Assets under management: $188 billion nationally
  • Target investor: $3 million or more in investable assets

"This is a good time to be in U.S. stocks."

— Doug DiVirgilio, Southeast division executive

Wells Fargo & Co.
  • Florida headquarters: Jacksonville
  • Top Florida private banking executive: Bill D'Antignac
  • Assets under management: $118 billion (U.S.)
  • Target investor: More than $1 million in assets for individuals; more than $50 million for families
  • Recent news: Recently introduced text banking.

"With the recent economic crisis being global, we expect the recovery to be global as well. Investment market volatility is probably here to stay for some time."

— Bill D'Antignac, senior managing director

Northern Trust

  • Florida headquarters: Miami
  • Top Florida private banking executive: Sheldon Anderson
  • Assets under management: $145.2 billion globally
  • Target investor: $1 million or more in net worth
  • Recent news: Northern Trust opened an office in Fort Myers.

"Our outlook for 2010 expects continued improvement in global growth, accompanied by relatively easy monetary policy. We expect emerging markets to continue to lead the recovery, followed by the United States, Europe and then Japan. The most likely risk to this somewhat benign scenario is premature tightening by central banks that threatens the recovery."

— Sheldon Anderson, Southeast region president and CEO

Regions Financial Corp.

  • Florida headquarters: Tampa
  • Top Florida private banking executives: Joe Weaver, west Florida, Tampa; Alex Gonzalez, central Florida, Orlando; Scott Barrow, north Florida, Pensacola; Val Perez, south Florida, West Palm Beach
  • Assets under management: Would not disclose
  • Target investor: $500,000 or more in investable assets
  • Recent news: Regions Financial recently named Nick Stonestreet executive vice president leading its private banking division.