San Francisco-based Bank of the West -- a subsidiary of BNP Paribas -- is making a major push to beef up its wealth management services for affluent and high-net-worth individuals. The bank has opened three new office centers for the exclusive use of wealth management experts and client relationship managers. Two more centers are slated to open by the end of the year and three more will open next year.

John Bahnken, head of Bank of the West Wealth Management and senior executive vice president, said that the centers help address client demand for more comprehensive, personalized service. “Affluent and high-net-worth clients want an integrated banking and investment relationship,” Bahnken said in a telephone interview.

The new centers -- which opened in Denver, Los Angeles and San Jose, three of the bank’s key markets -- are distinct office spaces designed to provide wealthier clients with greater privacy than a traditional branch setting would offer, said Bahnken. 

The centers -- the bank refers to them as Wealth Management Client Centers -- are part of a new service approach the bank adopted in April to deliver broader wealth management services covering “all facets of financial life” to high-net-worth clients, said Bahnken. 

As part of the new service approach, the bank implemented a network of relationship managers called private client advisors or PCAs who will staff the centers. These individuals are the primary point of contact for clients, explained Bahnken. They bring together the wealth management experts clients might need, such as private mortgage bankers or trust officers, for example.

Since Bank of the West introduced the new service model, it has appointed nearly 30 PCAs in key markets, including California, Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and North Dakota. The bank aims to have 50 by the end of the year. It also is shoring up the number of personal trust administrators, investment portfolio managers, mortgage bankers and other wealth management experts.

Bank of the West plans to open three additional centers in 2012. Its flagship center in San Francisco will open by the end of the first quarter of 2012 or early in the second quarter of next year, said Bahnken.

Bank of the West operates more than 700 retail and commercial banking locations in 19 Western and Midwestern states. 




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