First Midwest Bank has acquired Premier Asset Management, a Chicago-based RIA that caters to high-net-worth clients, the bank announced on Monday.

The bank was looking to expand its wealth management business and strengthen its ability to meet the financial and service needs of higher net worth clients. It also wanted to add management depth to its platform, according to a company spokesman.

"Premier's combination of expertise and service commitment sets them apart, bringing additional breadth to First Midwest," Robert Diedrich, the bank's director of wealth management, said in a statement.

The acquisition of the Premier will also bolster the bank's position as a market leader within the wealth management space in Illinois, where First Midwest is based, and bring its wealth assets under management to $9.5 billion. Premier had $532 million of assets under management, according to firm's latest Form ADV.

First Midwest declined to disclose how much it paid for the RIA.

The new firm, which has fewer than 10 advisers, will operate as a separate subsidiary within the bank, First Midwest said.

"We are very excited to partner with First Midwest as we look forward to adding momentum to an already leading market presence," Joseph Seminetta, president of Premier, said in a statement. Seminetta added that the acquisition will allow Premier to provide its clients with a broader range of products as well as access to First Midwest's "robust network of services," which he said, "creates value for all involved."

The acquisition is the latest in a string of deals that banks are striking with advisory firms to expand their wealth management businesses. Fifth Third Bank, for example, in January announced plans to purchase a retirement advisory firm in Cincinnati, while Meridian Bank based in Malvern, Pennsylvania, is preparing to buy a local RIA with roughly $700 in assets under management. Both are looking to close the deals in April.

The fiduciary rule, however tenuous, is prompting banks and credit unions to buy wealth advisory practices as they are more skewed toward fee-based business, a plus for institutions that still have a high percentage of commission-based accounts, according to Tim Kehrer, senior research analyst at consulting firm Kehrer Bielan Research & Consulting.

"It will help them to jumpstart that transition away from transaction to advisory," Kehrer said.

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