In a bid to attract more mass-affluent clients, U.S. Bank is calling on bankers and advisors to work in teams.

The bank's Private Client Group, which provides retail banking services to clients with more than $100,000 in assets, is rolling out a strategy to pair its private bankers with financial advisors in U.S. Bancorp Investments, the bank's brokerage arm. So far, the bank has established 14 teams—each consisting of a private banker, an investment relationship manager, and a private client associate—in Milwaukee, Denver and Seattle.

The private banker manages the banking needs of mass-affluent clients, while the investment relationship manager handles their investments. Both are supported by the private client associate who plays an important role in delivering client service, said Ann Yekaldo, president of the Private Client Group.  

U.S. Bank will launch additional teams through the end of the year and into next year but did not have a specific goal as the ultimate number of teams.

"We're starting with a few teams in each market and fine-tuning the client experience, making sure that we've got the support we need in place for the teams," Yekaldo said.

The development of the teams will be based on the number of clients who have—or have the potential to have—$250,000 in assets and banking balances. "We see a big opportunity in the mass-affluent space," Yekaldo said, noting that bank clients hold many of their investments outside of U.S. Bank, business the bank would like to capture.

The Private Client Group, which has 100 private bankers, and U.S. Bancorp Investments, which has 350 financial advisors, are working to align the teams. The teams, for example, have joint books of business, with plans in the works to better align their compensation, the details of which the bank declined to disclose.  As part of the coordination efforts, the Private Client Group teams are also brought into the branches for joint training with the branch teams.  The idea, Yekaldo said, is to help the branches understand and uncover the opportunity, helping branch personnel know "what to say and how to say it" to win mass-affluent business.

"As we put the PCG teams together and align their books of business, we're also aligning the branch coverage for that PCG team," said Yekaldo.  The teams, she added, may cover up to three branches.

Private Client Group customers enjoy a variety of banking benefits, including more flexibility on loans and discounts on closing costs for certain types of home mortgages. "We worked on packaging products and services to recognize our clients for their value to U.S. Bank," Yekaldo said.

PCG customers, however, will not see any reduction in fees on their investments, despite an ever-expanding field of robo advisors offering automated investment services more cheaply.

"We always have to be competitive from a pricing perspective, but we believe that our clients are looking for advice and that's part of the value that we add," Yekaldo said. "If we're competing on price alone, we've lost."


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