Where the wealth keeps growing

February 12, 2012

With a high concentration of affluent households, the Washington area has become a hotbed for wealth management services.

Financial firms of all sizes have been expanding their operations in recent months to cater to area residents banking six figures. And with good reason. Companies that offer wealth management services in the area are reporting a surge in interest from consumers seeking advice.

Take Sandy Spring Bank, which reported a 7 percent year-over-year increase in wealth management revenue in the fourth quarter. The Olney-based bank primarily attributed the uptick to the addition of new clients.

Area wealth continued to grow, albeit marginally, despite the sluggish economy, which sustained the financial planning sector. Household incomes in Loudoun County, for instance, rose 2.8 percent to $119,540 in 2010, according to the Census Bureau.

Here’s a sample of some of the firms that have made recent moves to reach out to Washington’s wealthy.

BNY Mellon

This New York City-based firm has a long track record of serving the well-to-do. But it made an official play for Washington’s wealthy by opening its first full-service office in downtown D.C. last November.

BNY Mellon, with some $170 billion in private client assets under management, is in the market for clients with at least $3 million in assets. That’s a pittance considering more than a quarter of the firm’s managed assets come from clients with at least $100 million.

Northern Trust

A month before BNY Mellon execs settled into their new D.C. digs, Northern Trust turned on the lights at its first District office. The Chicago-based bank, targeting clients with at least $5 million in assets, wanted to be closer to its existing local customers, and pick up a few new ones.

Convergent Wealth Advisors

Not to be outdone in its own hometown, this Potomac-based boutique firm has expanded its reach to a new client base. In late October, it started a division dedicated to customers with $500,000 to $5 million in assets. Independence by Convergent, as the division is called, provides similar services received by the company’s traditional clientele — those with at least $10 million to their name.

Bank of America

You don’t have to be a multimillionaire to get service in this town. Bank of America throughout the second half of 2011 hired 35 financial advisers in the greater Washington area to serve customers with assets worth between $50,000 and $250,000.

The bank, which has 8 million of these customers nationwide, also rolled out its Platinum Privileges rewards program in the area. The program provides “preferred” customers with higher interest rates on accounts, greater access to specialists, fee waivers and discounts on home loans.

Danielle Douglas covers the banking industry for The Washington Post.
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