The private-client group of BankAmerica Corp. says it will bring 50 brokers onto its teams of specialists this quarter.
The brokers, who work in the retail brokerage of the Charlotte, N.C., banking company, will join teams of specialists in trust, investment management, estate planning, credit, and oil and gas.
The brokers are to support so-called relationship managers who interact the most with clients, executives said.
The brokers will work on accounts in which clients can direct trades, not the discretionary investment accounts the private-client group manages, said David W. Fisher, one of the three presidents at Bank of America's Private Bank. Therefore, he said, he does not expect any conflicts between brokers and specialists.
Clients "view different pots of money in different ways," said Mr. Fisher, who is president for trust, investments, and banking. The relationship managers will continue to take the lead, he said.
The addition of brokers to the private-client group comes after pilot programs in offices in Florida and California initiated separately about a year ago by the old BankAmerica and NationsBank Corp. The banking companies merged Sept. 30.
"Both pilots showed early success," Mr. Fisher said.
The private-client groups of the merger partners were also organized similarly, making it easier to put them together, said Kathleen Brown, the private bank's president for the West.
"Each had established a client relationship model," she said. "We were moving down the same track on delivery."
BankAmerica is not the first U.S. bank to adopt such a strategy. Other banking companies with private-client group teams - including Wells Fargo & Co.-have had brokers join offices.
"You'll see more and more of this," said David B. Master, managing director of Optima Group Inc., a consulting firm in Fairfield, Conn.
He added that the rivalry between brokerage and trust cannot continue because clients want both discretionary investment and brokerage accounts.
The team approach is a "proxy for accommodating a greater variety of investment behavior," Mr. Master said.
David Ross Palmer, a private banking consultant based in East Falmouth, Mass., said this approach gives bank management an "opportunity to shut down competition between the broker and the relationship manager and all other people dealing with the client."
But it may not always work, since "brokers are built to be individuals not team players," he said.
BankAmerica plans to expand its private-client base by fielding referrals from throughout the banking company, including the commercial and consumer banking groups, said William C. Helms, the private bank's president for the East.
"There's 30 million households serviced by BankAmerica," he said. "We think one million of those households are prospects. Today we serve 100,000 of those households. So we could grow this business 10 times."
He added that senior management has high expectations for the group. Mr. Helms said he expects an annual growth rate for the division of 20% to 25%.
The brokers will move into BankAmerica's largest private-client offices, including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, and Seattle. The private bank manages $110 billion of assets, has $14 billion of loans outstanding, and holds $12 billion of deposits in 24 states.