BankAmerica Corp. has quietly shaken up its private bank, with two key managers relinquishing control to other executives.
Last month, executive vice president Amanda M. Wallis stepped down as head of California private banking. Three months earlier, her boss, W. Richard Holmes, was stripped of responsibility for both California and international private banking and trust.
Group executive vice president Alexander M. Anderson has taken over Mr. Holmes' duties. Control of Ms. Wallis' area is being assumed on an interim basis by William L. Timoney, a BankAmerica senior vice president who oversees personal trust. None of the executives involved in the management changes would comment for this report.
Spokeswomen for BankAmerica said that both Ms. Wallis and Mr. Holmes are still employed by the bank and are seeking other assignments within the company.
The spokeswomen added that a combination of strategic and personal reasons were behind the moves. But a source close to the situation said there could also be another motivation - disappointment with the performance of the units under Mr. Holmes' and Ms. Wallis' control.
The source, who asked not to be named, said that neither private banking nor personal trust has been a strong performer. Last month, Mr. Anderson sent out a memo warning that 45% of the two units' costs were going to be cut, the source said.
BankAmerica spokeswoman Lisa Lewis confirmed that cost cutting was under way. She said it was intended to reduce controllable expenses, including travel and overtime.
"This is to insure that the private bank isn't overplanned for expenses for the year," Ms. Lewis said. She also said that she could not comment on any internal memos. Observers said that the changes continue eight years of flux that has stifled the units.
"They haven't fulfilled their potential as a competitor," said a senior executive of one of the biggest rivals of BankAmerica's private bank, who asked not to be named.
BankAmerica spokeswoman Shirley Norton said that Mr. Holmes lost his assignment for strategic reasons. She said that BankAmerica has decided to put private banking, personal trust, retail brokerage, and investment management into one unit overseen by Mr. Anderson. The goal is to get better coordination of the services BankAmerica sells to the wealthy, she said.
"This consolidation brings together one organization and one delivery system whose people, products, and services meet the financial needs of high-net-worth individuals," Ms. Norton said.
Mr. Anderson, who reports to BankAmerica vice chairman Michael E. Rossi, got control of investment management and retail brokerage when he was hired away from Wells Fargo late last year.
BankAmerica is clearly one of the leaders in private banking and personal trust in California. It operates 10 domestic private banking offices in the state, and also has 13 international private banking offices and five international personal trust offices in the United States and abroad. BankAmerica employs about 1,000 people in the area.
Observers said that the private banking unit went through a period of retrenchment in the late 1980s and early 1990s when BankAmerica was struggling to recover from huge loan losses. In 1987, to raise cash, BankAmerica sold its personal trust unit to Wells Fargo.
BankAmerica reentered the personal trust business when it merged with Security Pacific Corp. in 1992. But industry sources said that many of Security Pacific's best personal trust professionals left after the merger, because of disagreements over management style.
There has been a handful of different managers of private banking since 1992. Mr. Holmes had control of both private banking and personal trust for only a year and a half.