Magazine article American Banker

Umpqua: New Asset Unit Can Thrive in Recession

Magazine article American Banker

Umpqua: New Asset Unit Can Thrive in Recession

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Ackermann

Umpqua Holdings Corp.'s new asset management unit may soon find that even a local bank will have a hard time getting people to invest during the current economic climate.

The company wants to develop business in the Pacific Northwest by relying on its "hometown presence" and cross-selling to its parent's customers, its top executive said. "In our industry, periods of incredible turmoil are also periods of incredible opportunity," Kelly Johnson, hired by Umpqua to run the unit as executive vice president of asset management, said in an interview Tuesday,

He said Umpqua, which has $8.3 billion of bank assets, has sold private-client services for decades but the new unit will let the Portland, Ore., banking company add trust and asset management services to its menu. He said the unit will complement the services offered by Umpqua's brokerage subsidiary, Strand Atkinson, Williams, and York; it looks to cross-sell wealth management services to both the bank and its brokerage unit. "Customers are looking for all of their asset management services from one company," he said.

Analysts said the approach is not new. Many banks have entered wealth management in recent years - and left it because cross-selling can be difficult "Most wealthy and mass-affluent customers that these banks want to target already have an adviser somewhere else," said Burton Greenwald, an analyst at BJ Greenwald Associates. "You can't hang a shingle and expect assets to flood in."

Mr. Johnson, who was a senior managing director at Royal Bank of Canada's RBC Wealth Management unit in Oregon, central Washington, and Reno, Nev., agreed many banks are divesting. "Most banks, without being too specific, decided to get out of asset management to shore up their capital," he said. "We are not in that situation. Our capital levels are strong. This is a real opportunity for us. …

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