Bessemer Trust Co. and Mellon Bank Corp. have beefed up their private banking operations in the booming West Coast market.
Bessemer has added two California offices in a year and a half and is now bringing in a prominent local private banker to lead its efforts in the southern part of the state. And Mellon said Wednesday that it has added some key private banking services.
The West Coast market is so strong that executives of Bessemer say they expect their fee income to grow three to four times as fast there as in the Northeast over the next five years.
New York-based Bessemer, which administers $14 billion of assets for the rich, opened its newest office, in San Francisco, in March. And to put a prominent face in its Los Angeles office, which opened last year, it has now hired Union Bank of Switzerland executive Jack H. Walston, who has been advising wealthy Californians for generations.
Mr. Walston will start Oct. 1, joining three other Bessemer executives in California, a state teeming with technology and entertainment multimillionaires.
He had led UBS' private banking efforts in the western United States, supervising eight marketers. A UBS spokesman said he will not be replaced.
Bessemer is "not a private banking household name in California," said Donald J. Herrema, its chief operating officer. "A Bank of America or Wells Fargo certainly is. The hiring of someone like Jack Walston will help."
Mr. Walston, who has worked for private investors at several institutions in Southern California since the 1950s, including BankAmerica Corp., is facing heightened competition there.
Mellon announced Wednesday that it is offering investment management, trust services, and jumbo mortgages in its Beverly Hills office.
"The addition of these three key business lines significantly enhances our capabilities for serving the high-net-worth clients in Beverly Hills and other West Side Los Angeles areas," Keith P. Russell, a Mellon vice chairman who oversees operations in 13 western states, said in a prepared statement.
Pittsburgh-based Mellon, which administers $66 billion of private client assets, also serves affluent Californians in Los Angeles, Newport Beach, Palm Desert, Palo Alto, and San Francisco.
Mr. Walston, who will be senior resident officer for Bessemer in Southern California, said he is unfazed by competition. "I know the territory," he said, adding that he plans to put in 12 hour days.
"The long-term future for the West is truly dramatic, because it really is the window to Asia," Mr. Walston said. "That's probably where you're going to have the greatest growth in the coming century."
Bessemer is beefing up at home too. Preston Koster, a 20-year veteran of J.P. Morgan & Co., starts Monday at Bessemer's headquarters as a senior account manager. Earlier this month, Jeffrey A. Pfleger was named senior vice president to run marketing in Miami, succeeding Sam Barr, who retired.
The company also has offices in Woodbridge, N.J., in Chicago and Washington, and in Naples and Palm Beach, Fla., as well as operations in London and on Grand Cayman.
Bessemer administers $14 billion of assets for wealthy families. Its U.S. offices outside California are in Woodbridge, N.J.; Chicago; Washington; and Miami, Naples, and Palm Beach, Fla. It also has operations in London and on Grand Cayman. u