Magazine article American Banker

PNC Unit Sets Lofty Hiring Goal for Itself and Nat City

Magazine article American Banker

PNC Unit Sets Lofty Hiring Goal for Itself and Nat City

Article excerpt

Byline: Steve Garmhausen

PNC Financial Services Group Inc.'s wealth management business plans a hiring blitz to build on the Pittsburgh banking company's$5 billion acquisition of National City Corp. of Cleveland in December.

The goal is to add around 350 advisers over the next several months, according to Michael Mortensen, the president of PNC Investments.

"We have the opportunity to grow our sales force close to 1,000 financial advisers and 1,500 licensed bankers," he said in an interview. "It's a huge opportunity for us."

The idea is to boost National City's adviser coverage to the same level as PNC's, Mortensen said.

National City has traditionally relied heavily on licensed bankers to sell investments, while PNC's model is more adviser-centered, noted Kenneth Kehrer, the director of the research firm Kehrer-Limra. PNC has 400 licensed bankers and National Cityhas 1,000, he said. PNC'sbrokerage operation had $18 billion of assets under management at the end of 2008. "Nat City," Mortensen said,"was a bit behind us in terms of their penetration rate, so there is a lot of upside there."

Kehrer said Mortensen "clearly understands he needs good adviser coverage. That is one of the best levers he has to maximize the operation of brokerage working within a bank."

In February, Mortensen said the hiring market was strong and PNC hired 40 advisers last year. Many bank executives have reported that the market is awash with talent as big brokerage houses lose advisers and brokers. Citigroup Inc.'s Smith Barney and Merrill Lynch, now a unit of Bank of America Corp., are among the firms that have been losing or laying off brokers and advisers.

Kehrer, however,said PNC could struggle to add hundreds of positions. "Is an adviser more apt to move in difficult times, or to stay put and hang on to what he's got?" he said.

The Dec. 31 purchase of Nat City brought PNC Investments into new markets and added scale that "will allow us to do things from a product and tech standpoint that we might not have been able to afford before,"Mortensensaid. …

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