Webster Bank is a decidedly local bank but when it comes to its investment and wealth management services, its thinking is distinctly global.
Yves Cochez, the private bank's new chief investment strategist, wants to make sure that Webster puts on that global thinking cap more often.
"I am doing a lot in terms of educating internally but also externally with clients on the opportunities we have on a global basis and making sure the message gets across that whatever is not in the U.S. is not necessarily riskier," he said in a mild French accent.
Cochez's global perspective is not surprising given his extensive international background. Prior to joining Webster Private Bank in May, he held a number of senior investment positions around the globe, including a 13-year run with Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management, where he served in Brussels, Geneva and New York City.
"Our portfolios have had exposure to international markets before," the Belgian national said of Webster's investment management philosophy. "I'm trying to some extent to improve on what we were doing before from a global perspective. But it's not a revolution."
As chief investment strategist, Cochez wants to bring more than "an international perspective on things." He is the throes of an effort to revamp Webster's investment offering. He is assessing the bank's third-party asset manager platform to make sure clients have access to the best talent in each asset class, he said.
He is also looking to expand the bank's investment offerings. In August, he introduced the bank's first ETF portfolio and plans to add four more for other risk profiles.
For Cochez, the goal is to position Webster's nascent private banking business for growth. Webster launched the private bank in March 2012 and had $2 billion in assets under management at the end of last year. Webster aims to double that within the next three to five years, Cochez said.
"Webster Bank is expanding from the private banking perspective, and we know that investment management is really key if we want to expand the overall business," he said.
To position the business for growth, Cochez is looking for ways to make investment management more efficient from a systems perspective. Specifically, he is looking at software and platform enhancements to improve client reporting, manager screening and risk management.
"As in any other private banking business, we always look at ways to improve on how we do things," Cochez said. The trick is to take investment strategies, which look "nice on paper," and implement them into client portfolios in the most efficient way, Cochez said.
For all the preparation, growth of the private banking business isn't expected until 2014, according to Cochez. He might "potentially hire more portfolio managers going forward" but could not give a precise number. Cochez currently manages a team of five portfolio managers and one investment administrator.
"Although we have global view of the market, we are still very much a local bank and it's very important for us that we don't have too many client relationships and not have enough people to provide tailored services," he said.
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