U.S. Bank’s high-net-worth wealth management unit is sticking to its strategy despite a sudden change in leadership at the top.

“We are not taking any abrupt turns,” Mike Ott, the unit’s new president, said in a recent telephone interview. Ott stepped into his new role in late October after Michael Boardman, the former president of the bank’s Private Client Reserve unit, accepted a position as CEO of Chase Wealth Management at JPMorgan Chase.

“I’ve been handed the baton of this wonderful organization, and I’m marshaling these great people in the same direction that we were headed,” Ott said.

Ott, a colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, joined U.S. Bank in 2009 as head of investments for the Reserve. He quickly rose through the ranks, becoming the unit’s Twin Cities market leader in 2010 and Central Region President in 2011.

Since he joined the Reserve, the unit has focused on attracting talent while also training and developing existing advisors. It hired 179 advisors since April of 2010, bringing the total force of advisors and client-facing staff to 420.

Ott expects to see some growth in the number of advisors in 2014, but the “bulk of it,” he said, “is behind us.”

Training and developing advisors will continue to be a top priority, Ott said. The firm, for example, invested in sales training for advisors that focuses on “activities-based behaviors that help advisors expand their networks to help grow the business,” according to Ott. The development program includes training in both interpersonal interaction and communication or “client engagement” as well as in technical areas, such as trust and estate strategies and portfolio/investment management.

Ott noted that the proportion of advisors hitting or exceeding their sales goals has gone up “handily” over the last three years. Part of the reason is tied to the compensation structure, which links bonuses to client retention and growth, he said. Another reason is the unit’s service model and collaborative environment.

“We serve our clients using a team approach,” he said, explaining that each client is assigned a wealth management advisor who acts as the main point of contact and coordinates the team of specialists to work in concert.

This collaborative environment is important as the Reserve seeks to gain a greater share of existing customers’ business and attract new wealth management customers from within U.S. Bank. “When they come to us for everything, we then truly are their lead advisor and that’s what we’re seeking to become,” Ott said of clients who look to the Reserve to fill all their wealth management needs.

In that spirit, the Reserve worked with other wealth management units—namely U.S. Bancorp Investments, the brokerage affiliate of U.S. Bank, and Ascent Private Capital Management, the bank’s ultra-high-net-worth wealth business—to roll out a high-end mortgage product earlier this year, which Ott said has been well received by clients. It also partnered with U.S. Bank’s commercial banking unit on a program to attract business owners.

“The enterprises that U.S. Bank supports through its commercial and institutional groups are led by the same individuals that the Private Client Reserve seeks to serve,” Ott said.

The Reserve is also partnering with external bank units to woo other segments, such accounting and law firms and other professional services firms as well as the medical services community. For example, its healthcare solutions team, which works with medical practices and the physicians who own and manage them, partnered with the bank’s treasury management group to help clients manage cash payments and receipts.

Ott noted that the partnering has led to “material dialogue” with potential clients who knew nothing about the bank’s wealth management services.

“Our biggest opportunity is to orient, introduce and expose more clients to the bank to what we do in wealth management,” Ott said. 

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