Barclays Wealth Sets Sights on Top-5 HNW Spot

This means spending an additional $1 billion over the next three years to boost its global wealth-management effort.

Barclays Wealth says it is making the financial and other commitments needed to make it a top-five wealth-management firm over the next five years.

"This is not incremental growth but transformational growth," said Steven Alper, managing director and head of market development at Barclays Wealth in the Americas. "We started in the second half of 2009 and further enhanced and committed our plans in early 2010."

This means spending an additional $1 billion over the next three years to boost Barclays' global wealth-management effort. "And this investment is front-end loaded," Alper explained.

From 250 today, Barclays Wealth plans to grow the ranks of its advisor force to between 400 and 500 over the next few years in the Americas.

It recruited 50 teams last year and is "on track" to recruit 50 to 100 this year, Alper added. "We are very pleased with the results of our efforts to date in 2010."

Barclays Wealth Americas had assets under management of about $240 billion as of December 31, 2009, and 14 offices.

In early June, Barclays Wealth named a new head of its wealth management efforts in the Americas: former-Merrill Lynch executive Steve Houston.

In mid-June Barclays Wealth hired Don Milich and Clifford Wang, both formerly of Morgan Stanley, to work in the firm's Atlanta office.

Earlier this year, a Barclays source said the firm targets professionals producing about $2 million annually.

Barclays acquired Lehman Brothers' private investment management business in September 2008 and has been using the group as a foundation for building this business in United States and Latin America. Following the December 2009 merger of BlackRock and Barclays Global lnvestors, including Barclay's market-leading iShares ETF business, Barclays has maintained a 19.9% stake in the combined firm.

The investment bank says about 30% of its representatives come from wirehouse firms, and the rest come from investment boutiques, private banks, and other organizations that focus on high-net-worth clients.

"There's been a big uptick in recent years as we have scaled up and increased our commitment to the business, and given what's been going on at the wirehouses," Alper said. "Thus, I could see us having great success in the channel going forward."

He says that wirehouse advisors joining Barclays Americas are generally both those with less than 10 years in the business looking to grow their business in the high-net-worth client segment and those with more than 10 years in the business wanting to leverage the firm's global investment platform, resources, and scale.

In addition to the asset-allocation platform, advisors are attracted to the ease of access to products, information, and support at Barclays Wealth. "You are not fighting with 18,000 other [advisors] to get resources or attention - or client coverage. It's a wide-open playing field," Alper said.

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