April 28, 2011

U.S. Bank Re-Brands Ultra-HNW Group

Ascent Private Capital Management is being led by former-Wells Fargo executive Michael Cole

U.S. Bank said Wednesday that its wealth-management group had launched Ascent Private Capital Management as its brand for a new ultra-high-net-worth business unit. Ascent is being led by Michael Cole, the former head of Wells Fargo Family Wealth Group and Wealth Planning Center.

“Many ultra-wealthy individuals are riding the wave of global responsibility and proactively using their wealth to make a positive impact on the world,” said Cole (left) in a statement. “U.S. Bank will provide clients with the guidance and tools they need to help them positively impact the world and establish their legacy.”

Ascent – now in the process of adding to its management team and hiring advisors -- should be opening offices later this year in existing U.S. Bank locations in Minneapolis, when the bank is based, and in Denver, according to Stone. Ascent’s operations are based in San Francisco.

“The launch of Ascent Private Capital Management will provide a new focus and expanded capabilities for ultra-high-net-worth clients as U.S. Bank Wealth Management’s business continues to grow,” said spokesperson Cheryl Stone of U.S. Bank in a phone interview on Thursday. The group also aims to help clients achieve their wealth-transfer goals and establish their legacies for future generations, she explains.  

In addition to serving ultra-high-net-worth clients through Ascent, U.S. Bank’s Wealth Management Group focuses on high-net-worth clients with more than $1 million in investable assets through its Private Client Reserve group and affluent clients with more than $100,000 in investable assets through its Private Client Group. The unit has some $60 billion in assets under management, which is split roughly evenly between the three segments.

Brokerage services are offered through U.S. Bancorp Investments, which has about 500 financial advisors. These Series 7 advisors do financial planning and provide other advice mainly to clients in the affluent segment.

Clients in the wealthiest segment, Stone says, generally already have a relationship with U.S. Bank through their businesses. But as they sell the business or ramp it up, they often need other financial services, she explains.   

“Ultra high net worth investors often realize how fortunate they’ve been and are now considering how they can make a substantial, positive impact with their wealth,” said U.S. Bank Wealth Management President Mark Jordahl (left) in a statement. “They’re applying investment and planning discipline to help them make a meaningful difference and measure success.”

There are about 35,000 families in this wealth segment, Stone says. They possess about 65% of the estimated $40 trillion that is expected to move from one generation to another by 2050, according to the Boston College Center on Wealth and Philanthropy. Among this group, there has traditionally been a 70% wealth-dissipation rate in wealth transfers to the third generation and beyond, typically due to a lack of communication among family members and inadequate preparation of the next generation, note authors Roy Orville Williams and Vic Preisser in their book Preparing Heirs: Five Steps to a Successful Transition of Family Wealth and Values.

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