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Bank of New York Mellon Wealth Management will open a new office in Dallas early next year, and is also looking to expand in Florida, Southern California and the Washington, D.C. metro markets, according to chief executive Larry Hughes.

“We think Dallas is a great market with lots of wealthy people,” Hughes said in an interview with Registered Rep. magazine. “We’re confident our capabilities will enable us to do well competitively.”

BNY Mellon Wealth Management, which oversees $160 billion in total client assets, plans to add to its over 700 client-facing professionals by hiring a “significant” but yet to be determined number of sales reps and advisors in 2011, Hughes said. BNY Mellon is also “always interested” in acquiring existing wealth management firms in markets it is considering, he added.

The bank’s recent efforts to raise its wealth management profile with a print-oriented branding campaign will continue in 2011, Hughes said. Ads touting the bank’s wealth management expertise will run in publications targeted to upscale readers such as the New York Times Sunday Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, Architectural Digest and regional publications such as the Boston Business Journal.

The image campaign is a smart move, according to industry observers who think BNY Mellon under-performed under the leadership of Dave Lamere, who Hughes replaced as CEO in May.

“They have a great brand, but I don’t hear about them at the really high end of the business,” said industry consultant Robert Ellis, principal at Fast Track Advisors. “There are so many firms chasing the ultra high net worth market that they have to differentiate themselves and present a better value proposition.”

“BNY Mellon has a great name and a good foundation, but they’re not achieving what they’re capable of,” said Steve Wade, partner at Knightsbridge Advisors, an industry research, consulting and executive search firm.

Hughes said he viewed the “very challenging investing landscape” as one of the biggest issues facing the firm in the coming year. But he also praised the income and estate tax compromise reached by President Obama and the Republican Congressional leadership. “I don’t think this is the time to raise taxes,” Hughes said. “This brings a certainty that will be good for the economy and helpful to our clients.”