Mentioned In This Article

New York City will be the cornerstone of U.S. Bank’s east coast wealth management build-up, according to Heidi Steiger, who was appointed Atlantic region president of the bank’s Private Client Reserve unit earlier this month.

In an interview with Registered Rep., Steiger said she planned to add at least ten client-facing professionals in New York next year, as well as an unspecified number to U.S. Bank’s Private Client Palm Beach and Naples offices in Florida. After that, Steiger said she will turn her attention to key east coast markets from Boston to Miami.

Although Minneapolis-based U.S. Bank, a division of U.S. Bancorp, is the fifth-largest commercial bank in the United States with $291 million in assets, it has no wealth management presence on the east coast, except for the two offices in Florida. The bank’s new wealth managers will be an “opportunistic” mix of team lift-outs, acquisitions and new hires, said Steiger, a New York-based wealth management veteran who has held key executive positions at Neuberger Berman, Lowenhaupt Global Advisors and Berkshire Capital.

Even though U.S. Bank is starting from scratch in New York’s brutally competitive wealth management market, Steiger maintained that the Private Client Reserve unit, which has $33.5 billion in assets nationally, still has a fighting chance to grab market share among wealthy clients who have between $1 million and $25 million in investable assets.

“No one has dominant share in New York, so there are always opportunities for established players,” she said. “And I don’t think people have been so quick to change their advisor after the market dislocation of September ’08. I think they wanted to feel there’s some stability before they change.”

In fact, Steiger expects U.S. Bank’s size and stability following the financial crisis to be strong selling point, although she admits the bank’s lack of visibility and name recognition will be a major challenge.

Indeed, “U.S. Bank is not a name that resonates with high net worth clients looking for wealth management advice,” said Gary Carrai, senior managing director for Fortigent, the Rockville, Md.-based wealth management platform provider. “The bank’s name will hurt her, and I think her success will be more dependent on her personal reputation and credibility than the credibility of U.S. Bank.”

New York wealth management veteran Jamie McLaughlin believes Steiger’s credentials will help her win business. “While New York does not need another private bank or wealth manager, Heidi is a great leader and motivator,” said McLaughlin, the former chief executive of Geller Family Office Services. “She has seen many different business variations and has the versatility U.S. Bank needs to make a difference for them in New York.”