HONOLULU - Hawaii's largest banking company, Bancorp Hawaii Inc., is embarking on a major push to get more of its revenues from private banking and personal trust services.
Through an international expansion and a reorganization, the $12.6 billion-asset institution aims to double over five years the portion of revenues it gets from these services, from the 10% it received last year.
A key part of the strategy is to do more business with the growing number of wealthy Asians who vacation, buy real estate, and come to live in Hawaii.
"We have thousands of individuals who visit, live, and invest here every year who need these services," said Walter J. Laskey, executive vice president Bancorp Hawaii's lead bank.
By selling private banking and trust services in more offices outside of Hawaii, Bancorp Hawaii wants to make it easier for these people to use the institution "either here or abroad," Mr. Laskey explained.
Until November, Bancorp Hawaii only sold private banking and personal trust services in Hawaii, Guam, Tahiti, Fiji, Tongo, and the Pacific islands of Micronesia.
At that time, the institution began hiring trust and private banking specialists to work in its other nonHawaiian offices - located in Seoul, Manila, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Taiwan, and Saipan.
Since Bancorp Hawaii employs one private banking and trust specialist in each of its nonHawaiian locations, the expansion added six private banking and trust specialists to the 44 who were already selling these services for the company.
Bancorp Hawaii plans to continue its expansion by opening a new office in Bombay by yearend that will sell commercial banking, trust, and private banking services.
The bank also is considering adding more trust and private banking specialists to its foreign offices.
The international expansion was said by some experts to be a smart move.
"It's a fantastic growth area for (foreign) investors," said Daniel Hayden, strategy analyst for the VIP Forum, Washington, which researches private banking.
Bancorp Hawaii's expansion comes in midst of a reorganization that Mr. Laskey said is aimed at cutting costs and boosting sales.
As part of the change, several middle managers in trust, private banking, and retail brokerage were laid off last year, Mr. Laskey said. He declined to say how many lost their jobs.
Additionally, three new executives were named to run private banking and personal trust. Susan Mares, a vice president, was appointed to run the private banking unit, and George C. Weir and Michael A. O'Brien were named executive vice presidents in charge of trust services.
The banking company also aims to make sales representatives in these areas equally adept at selling trust, private banking, and brokerage services.
The changes are supposed to cut costs by allowing for the consolidation of back-office bookkeeping operations. They also are supposed to boost sales by making it easier for employees to cross-sell financial services to wealthy clients.
Mr. Laskey, who came to Bancorp Hawaii in 1993 from Merrill Lynch & Co., is at the nexus of the changes.
He started with Bank of Hawaii as head of its retail brokerage. With the reorganization, he added oversight of private banking and trust.
Mr. Laskey described the changes in a recent interview at a Polynesian restaurant near Waikiki Beach. Like many Hawaiian businessmen regularly do, he was dressed casually in an open-collared shirt.
If Bancorp Hawaii is able to get more money from trust and private banking, it could become a more attractive investment for its stockholders, said Claire M. Percarpio, senior analyst with Duff and Phelps Investment Research, Princeton, N.J.
Describing Bancorp Hawaii as a very "conservative" and a "loan dependent" banking company, she said a more diversified revenue stream would help protect it from downturns in lending, and allow it to grow faster.