Bankers Trust New York Corp. is expanding its private banking business in the southeast and shoring up its West Palm Beach, Fla., office to serve new markets.

The bank's Florida subsidiary is extending its Private Advisory Services for high-net-worth clients to cover the southeastern United States, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.

Bankers Trust Company of Florida appointed three new vice presidents, doubling the number of bankers devoted to private banking and trust. It said it plans to add more.

"We've been doing business in Florida since 1981, and this is part of the company's major push to expand Private Advisory Services globally," said John Flasco, president of the Florida bank.

"This expansion is part of our worldwide effort to capitalize on our ability to offer high-net-worth individuals a level of portfolio advice previously available only to major institutional investors," said Richard Marin, managing director and head of Private Advisory Services.

The private banking division primarily serves customers with more than $2 million in assets.

No Powerhouse

But though there are many wealthy people in the region, Bankers Trust has yet to make a major dent, especially in Florida. It is the Sunshine State's 10th-largest trust company and according to competitors is not a major private banking power-house there.

"We don't see Bankers Trust's private banking people in the market yet," said Richard A. Russo, managing director of Continental Bank's Florida operation, which is based in Boca Raton.

Future Contender?

Although Mr. Russo does not view Bankers Trust's private banking division as a serious source of competition today, he said it could be in the future.

"The wealth is obvious in the Southeast, particularly in Florida," he noted.

To capitalize on that affluence, Bankers Trust is considering adding space to its West Palm Beach office and is investigating other areas in the state.

The bank recently upgraded the computer technology in its West Palm Beach facility.

"We're not just a trust company," Mr. Flasco said. "We're basically an investment banking company, and in Florida there is phenomental opportunity for growth," he said.

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