Chase's Coral Gables Center Puts More Under One Roof

When it comes to winning over the affluent, Chase Manhattan Corp. plays aggressively.

The New York bank is weighing whether to purchase a commercial bank in California to expand its private banking services there. In the meantime, it has opened a financial-services center in Coral Gables, Fla., mainly to attract and serve the area's many wealthy individuals.

The center, which opened in May, is Chase's second expansion effort in Florida in recent months. In March, the bank opened a private banking office in the highly competitive Miami market. And it may decide to open offices elsewhere in the state.

Expansion Targets on Both Coasts

The private banking division "is expanding -- and it will continue to expand," a bank spokesman said.

Expenditures in private banking began to pick up last year, after Chase took aim at California and Florida for growth potential. The strategy coincides with Chase's efforts to scale back its once ambitious plan to be a nationwide retail bank.

The Coral Gables center offers a full range of lending, investment, and banking services for affluent clients -- those who qualify for private banking and those who are on their way to being millionaires.

It is the first time the bank has put all these services under one roof, giving clients what they demand -- convenience -- and the bank what it wants -- a cost-efficient center.

Consultant David Ross Palmer said the bank is taking "a coordinated approach that links the potential business in their retail client base with the opportunity to serve those people as they become affluent."

The center replaces the Coral Gables office of Chase's personal financial services division, which originates jumbo mortgages and other personal loans for clients who don't qualify for private banking.

Full Roster of Chase Services

In addition to housing personal financial services, the office includes a branch of Chase Manhattan Bank of Florida, incorporating retail and private banking functions; an office of Chase Manhattan Investment Services, which provides investment management for people with annual incomes of $75,000 to $250,000; and Chase Automotive Finance, which finances purchases and leases of luxury autos.

Chase's private banking division, which manages over $30 billion in assets globally, is expanding in a crowded market. Many commercial and trust banks are expanding throughout Florida, which has an abundance of wealthy retirees and provides a convenient base for serving Latin America.

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