U.S. Bancorp expects significant long-term growth from its wealth management business over the next three to five years as it looks to reap the benefits from an aggressive four year strategy to transform the business.

“In a broader context, we expect wealth management to be a faster growing piece of the total bank and if you look at segmentation, the ultra-high-net-worth space is the fastest growing segment in wealth management,” said Mark Jordahl, the president of U.S. Bank Wealth Management.

Terry Dolan, a vice chairman of wealth management and securities services at U.S. Bancorp, said the Minneapolis banking company expects wealth management to increase revenue 8% to 9% annually over the next three to five years. On Wednesday, the company announced it established Ascent Prrivate Capital Management, a new wealth management group for ultra-high-net-worth clients with more than $25 million in assets.

The company hopes the new brand and unit will provide “a unique brand identity to reinforce a differentiated service delivery model being created for U.S. Bank’s ultra high net worth clients.”

Dolan said this is the “last piece” of a multi-year strategy to reengineer its wealth management business. During the past three to four years, the business has evolved from one that offered primarily proprietary products to an open architecture wealth management operation.

“We are moving from a defensive strategy surrounding wealth management that we used in 2006 and 2007 to a more offensive strategy today and beyond,” Dolan said.

Over the past two years, U.S. Bancorp has segmented its wealth management business into two segments: affluent clients, which work with financial advisors in the bank’s branch network, and high-net-worth, design for clients with more than $1 million in assets.

Mark Jordahl, the president of U.S. Bank Wealth Management, said that clients with more than $25 million in assets will be serviced by Ascent’s advisors. He said that this segment represents more than $18 billion of U.S. Bank Wealth Management’s $60 billion in assets under management.

U.S. Bancorp plans to invest in Ascent in an effort to expand the business. Michael Cole, Ascent’s president, said his unit will open offices in Minnesota and Denver in the fourth quarter and plans to open a total of a half dozen offices in the banking company’s footprint and will hires teams in these offices to “add new business and enhance our offering to existing clients.”

Ascent plans to differentiate itself by helping ultra-wealthy clients focus on the impact of their wealth rather than simply on accumulating that wealth. Using highly differentiated services, Ascent will work with clients to address a range of issues that will help them achieve their wealth-transfer goals and establish their legacies for this and future generations.

“We want to take the capabilities that are there today in our Private Client Reserve business and add and enhance from there,” said Cole, who was the former head of Wells Fargo Family Wealth Group and Wealth Planning Center. “These ultra-high-net-worth clients are unique and different. Traditional planning is just table stakes. We are already good at these things. We need to help them do more than just manage their wealth. We need to help them manage the impact of their wealth.”

Analysts said U.S. Trust, a unit of Bank of America, is the clear leader in terms of company’s that work with the ultra-wealthy, but Jordahl dismissed the notion that the market is in any way cornered.

“There are plenty of terrific competitors both in terms of large institutional firms and boutiques, but we find that unlike like a lot of businesses, this is a very fragmented market,” he said. “There is no dominant competitor in the ultra-high-net-worth space or any segment. There is a lot of room to take share from competitors.”

He addd, “Clients have been confused by the financial crisis and they want to team with a trustworthy partner. … We have an opportunity to create a boutique within a broader financial institution. The idea of a boutique investment manger within a larger banking company is pretty powerful.”

Jordahl said U.S. Bank is well-established in a lot of communities.

“U.S. Bank has a lot of well established relationships and we can create some real stickiness with corporate executives, for example,” he said. “There is a halo effect here and a chance to offer capabilities to our offer business units.”

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