Barclays Wealth Building Business on Lehman Platform

Barclays Wealth, now run by a former Merrill Lynch executive, hired 50 investment representatives last year and aims to double that number this year.

Barclays Wealth managing director Mitch Cox, head of the firm's global investment & product office, is leading the firm as it moves into the second stage of its ambitious growth plan: to build a top wealth-management business in the Americas on the foundation of its September 2008 acquisition of the collapsed Lehman Brothers' private investment management business.

Last year, Barclays Wealth hired 50 investment representatives. This year, it aims to add at least 100 more. A Barclays source says the firm is targeting advisors producing about $2 million annually to serve its clientele -- high-net-worth individuals and businesses with at least $10 million in investable assets.

The former Lehman platform forms the base of the build-out. Prior to the acquisition, Barclays Wealth had a negligible presence in the U.S.

By mid-March 2009, it had hired 30 advisors. Now it boasts 12 U.S. branch offices, the most recent opened in October in Washington, D.C., to serve the Mid-Atlantic region. Other locations include Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Palm Beach.

Another branch is set to open shortly, according to the Barclays source. The firm also has an office in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Cox's appointment comes with the plan, as Barclays Wealth chief executive Thomas L. Kalaris has described, "to fundamentally shift our investment and product capabilities in terms of scale, portfolio construction and distribution."

New York-based Cox, who previously ran Merrill Lynch's global investment solutions group, has the mission to develop Barclays Wealth's infrastructure and investment platform, and to recruit the appropriate advisors to further expand Barclays' franchise in serving high-net-worth clients.

Prior to his 12 years at Merrill as a managing director, Cox worked at Bankers Trust Company, where he was responsible for delivering the private bank's derivative and hedge fund business.

Joining Cox as managing director-head of business strategy and platforms is another Merrill alumnus, Paul Morton. And Steve Alper, a former Merrill financial consultant who was later a manager at PIM, is Barclays' head of market development, including national sales.

Overseeing the branch system is Jack Petersen, managing director-head of wealth management-Americas, who reports to Cox.

The current push at Barclays Wealth is focused on offering comprehensive holistic and integrated wealth management services, including investment advice, asset management, estate and tax planning, and cash management services for high-net-worth individuals, trusts, foundations and endowments.

Positioning itself as an innovative berth for high-net-worth advisors, Barclays is rolling out Barclays Wealth ETF Tactical Allocation (Beta) Portfolios. The platform implements recommendations by the firm's global investment strategy group and offers an actively managed portfolio of passive index-based ETFs across a wide range of asset classes.

For investors seeking asset allocation in a smaller portfolio, the group's platform enables active management -- at lower fees -- of asset allocation via ETFs, Barclays Wealth says.

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