U.S. Trust hires managing director from JPMorgan in expansion bid

Firm looks to deepen its reach in the ultrahigh-net-worth market segment with plans to double head count in Washington by year's end

By Mason Braswell

May 9, 2014 @ 10:25 am (Updated 2:57 pm) EST

JPMorgan Chase & Co., U.S. Trust, Bank of America Corp. ultrahigh-net worth
(Bloomberg News)

The rivalry among boutique firms competing for the business of ultrawealthy clients continues to heat up with U.S. Trust's recent hire of a managing director from JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s private bank.

The firm has added Sam Gottesman to fill a new role as a managing director overseeing the three offices in the Washington area as the firm looks to double head count from six advisers to 12 by the end of the year. Target clients have $5 million to $50 million in assets.

Washington represents a key market for the boutiques, Mr. Gottesman said. There are about 45,000 families worth at least $5 million within 25 miles of the city and that number is growing, he noted.

“All firms who have the ability to deliver a service in that corridor are going to find that it is quite lucrative,” Mr. Gottesman said. “You're dealing with people who have a level of sophistication, perhaps not in financial products, but in life, and I think that lends itself to very interesting planning, generational transfer and other strategies that tend not to be in the affluent space.”

The move builds on recent growth for U.S. Trust, which functions as Bank of America Corp.'s boutique offering for ultra-wealthy clients. The firm has increased head count and assets steadily in recent years, adding 10 advisers in the past year. Their total head count stands at 282.

Those advisers generated $768 million in revenue and managed approximately $378 billion in assets in the first quarter, up $47 million and $23 billion, respectively, from the first quarter of last year.

Mr. Gottesman, who joined U.S. Trust in mid-April, has more than two decades of experience and had spent the past four years at JPMorgan's private bank, where he held a similar role building a focus on the ultrahigh-net-worth segment.

“We're growing pretty quickly and we're doing it from a place that has tremendous upside particularly in Washington,” he said.

U.S. Trust competes with other boutique wealth management firms, such as J.P. Morgan Securities, which has around 450 advisers focused on ultrahigh-net-worth clients.

Many of the wirehouses, including Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which also has a private banking group of around 150 teams focused on ultrawealthy clients, have been building their private wealth business.