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Developing wealth management programs not always easy

In an effort to advance their capabilities as comprehensive financial services providers, a number of banking organizations have focused their energies on the development of wealth management initiatives that include private banking, trust, investment and planning components, among others.

While some have experienced a degree of success, others are navigating their way in transforming the concept of integrated wealth management services into a reality.
While banks enjoy many attributes as they build and refine wealth management programs, the proposition isn’t necessarily easy.

Historically, consumers haven’t rushed to banks as their first choice for investment expertise. Moreover, it is often said by consultants and other industry observers that people’s relationships with their investment advisors are much like their relationships with physicians, attorneys or CPAs — if they’re comfortable with somebody, they’re not necessarily motivated to move.

However, banks have several elements in their favor as they aim to enhance and promote wealth management programs. Their brand names, so to speak, are often household names — or at least familiar ones — in local communities. Research studies over the years have also revealed that banks enjoy a reputation for objectivity and trust among the general public. Additionally, bankers who have regular contact with customers are well positioned to keep an eye out for significant life events, which would trigger opportunities to talk about personal finances.

One Mississippi-based banking company that is working to enhance its wealth management efforts is Jackson-based Trustmark. Duane Dewey, president of the company’s Wealth Management Group, recently shared his perspective about the business, as well as his company’s philosophy in this growing area of client services.

Dewey, who came to Trustmark in August of 2003, previously served as managing director and senior vice president of Provident Financial Advisors in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Sarasota, Fla., for six years. Prior to that, he spent 14 years with Bank of America in various capacities. He also knows a thing or two about competition, having served a professional baseball stint with the Kansas City Royals organization.

In a broad sense, Dewey said the goal of his group is to assist clients in building, preserving and transferring wealth through a host of banking products, investment products, planning and retirement planning services. The Trustmark Wealth Management Group encompasses private banking, personal trust, Trustmark Investment Advisors and Trustmark Securities Inc. in addition to its Wealth Management Consulting arm and TRMK Risk Management. Beyond Mississippi, the Wealth Management Group also has a presence in Houston, Texas, Memphis, Tenn., and the Emerald Coast of Florida.

Dewey said the group’s philosophy is based on a customized approach that stresses that a customer with $5,000 is just as important as one with $5 million. “The wealth management business is focused on credibility and trust, and we believe that we have the products, credentials and expertise to work with clients to achieve their individual goals,” Dewey said. “We just have to keep focused on communicating our capabilities.”

A simultaneous challenge and opportunity for bankers like Dewey moving forward will be the ability to target and meet the needs a younger, affluent population that doesn’t fit stereotypical profiles of a wealth management client.

Undoubtedly, banks will continue to hone their strategies and skills to capture what they hope will be a greater percentage of affluent and emerging-affluent market segments in the future. In the words of one long-time consultant, the “reward” for diligent efforts in this important area will be the creation of lifelong customers at the beginning of their investment lives.

Tupelo-based journalist and consultant Karen Kahler Holliday writes frequently for the Mississippi Business Journal. Send comments about her column to mbj@msbusiness.com.

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