There was an interesting development yesterday, April 27th, in the competitive quest to serve affluent clients. U.S. Bank announced the launching of Ascent Private Capital Management, a new wealth-management group for high-net-worth clients with more than $25 million in assets.
In the words of Michael Cole, president of the unit, “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.”
The bank hopes that, by engaging affluent families in broader discussions about their values and goals, the new unit will help prevent the loss of wealth that often occurs as assets are transferred from one generation to the next. About 70 percent of all estates fail to transfer successfully to the next generation, according to a study by the Williams Group of Stockton, Calif. The primary reasons are poor communication and lack of trust, rather than bad advice or financial mismanagement, according to the study, which included interviews with 3,250 families over four decades.
The competition among banks that are targeting the high-net-worth market is intense. U.S. Trust is the purported leader among the group, all of who are chasing the 36,000 or so persons in North America with investable assets of $25+ million. With this latest move, U.S. Bank is trying to distinguish itself with what it refers to as “wealth impact” services, i.e. sophisticated advice on how the affluent can make a positive impact upon the world (as opposed to ho-hum services like traditional planning and wealth management)