Millionaires filled the meeting room in anticipation of U.S. Bank's very special guest: Peter Sagal, the host of the popular news quiz, Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me, and narrator of the new PBS four-part series on the Constitution, aptly called Constitution USA.
"I can't think of a better thing for the bank and the Reserve to be involved in than ongoing dialogue around the Constitution and ongoing education," Michael Boardman, head of the Private Client Reserve, the bank's high-net-worth wealth management business, said of the event held in New York a few days before the PBS show's premier.
Sagal, who also hosts Constitution USA, sneaked into the room minutes before the event was scheduled to begin, sporting a black shirt and a patriotic red-white-and blue tie that befit the occasion. He soon led a lively discussion, along with the show's producers, on the ramifications of the Constitution in today's society.
The event, which had already taken place in St. Paul, Minn., would be held in multiple other Private Client Reserve locations across the country, including two in St. Louis, although not all would feature Sagal.
Amid intense competition for high-net-worth clients, the Private Client Reserve is ramping up its marketing efforts to differentiate itself from its rivals. "Each of our market leaders has a business development marketing plan," Boardman said, explaining that local marketing efforts revolve around identifying "great organizations" with whom the bank can align itself.
The Private Client Reserve is facing competition not only from other banks but also RIAs and multi-family offices, which are making rapid gains in market share, as well as wire houses, independent shops, insurance companies and direct providers, according to Donnie Ethier, senior analyst with Cerulli Associates. "Because of the activity in the space, you're going to see increased marketing spends across the board," he said.
In addition to boosting its marketing efforts, the Private Client Reserve is pursuing the usual avenues to set itself apart. It is focusing on client service and the quality of its team. Every team is locally based and draws on top-tier talent, Boardman said.
Since he became president of the business in July of 2010, Boardman has added 171 new advisors to the Private Client Reserve, bringing the total advisor force to 416 (as of April 30). He has invested significantly in his staff to create an internal culture that is team-driven, he said. The Private Client Reserve brought in outside consultants and developed an internal coaching program to help advisors develop a high degree of emotional intelligence and fine-tune their skills. Boardman also hosted national leadership conferences that brought together teams from throughout the country to share insights.
Another point of distinction for the Private Client Reserve in the competitive high-net-worth market is the "way it works with clients in terms of client experience," Boardman said. For the past two-plus years, he has led an effort to deepen relationships with clients across all generations.
As part of the effort, the Private Client Reserve is expanding its presence in a number of markets, particularly in Arizona and southwest Fla., places where many clients "over time end up," said Boardman.
In Florida, the expansion is occurring on both coasts with significant build-outs in Palm Beach and Naples, Boardman said. Other growth markets for the Private Client Reserve include California, Utah, Colorado and Kansas. These growth markets complement the Private Client Reserve's strongholds in Washington, Oregon, Minnesota, Mississippi, Wisconsin and Ohio.
"All of our markets have been growing," Boardman noted. "We have our sights set on double-digit revenue growth nationwide."