Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Banks Racing to Advise the Rich

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Banks Racing to Advise the Rich

Article excerpt

Many of Hudson City Savings Bank's customers are rich enough to make wealth management, private banking and trust service providers hunger for their business.

The Paramus-based thrift primarily makes jumbo mortgages, focusing on loans of more than $625,500. And about 21 percent of Hudson City's $24 billion in deposits is in accounts that exceed $100,000 -- "a sign of a wealthy customer base," said Dan Geller, executive vice president of Market Rates Insight.

But Hudson City, the top deposit holder in Bergen County, has no wealth management or trust division. So the bank's owner-to-be, M&T, is expected to aggressively market its wealth management services and products to Hudson City customers. M&T owns the Delaware-based wealth adviser Wilmington Trust.

Analysts expect large banks such as Buffalo, N.Y.-based M&T to place more emphasis on fee-generating businesses this year, including wealth management, because lending profitability is down amid prolonged low interest rates -- and New Jersey has always been a wealth management hot spot. Some banks are already doing so.

According to John Garone, wealth management regional director for Wells Fargo, New Jersey has about 115,000 households with $1 million in investable assets, and 40,000 of them are in Bergen County.

Bergen County's median household income of $83,443 ranks 39th among the nation's 3,222 counties, according to the latest census data. In New Jersey it ranks behind less populated Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Sussex and Monmouth counties.

The statewide median income is $67,458; the national figure is $50,502.

Private bankers and wealth managers say that with recent federal tax changes, well-off consumers may feel more need for professional guidance. And since the financial crisis, there has been more consolidation and more than the usual amount of customer and employee churn in the wealth management industry.

M&T agreed in August to buy Hudson City's parent company for $3.7 billion to fill in gaps in its retail branch network in New Jersey and elsewhere near New York City. The deal, which has yet to be approved by regulators, is expected to be closed by June 30.

In 2011, M&T acquired Wilmington Trust, which was established in 1903 by T. …

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