Less than three months after Boston Private Financial Holdings Inc. sold it to a group of private investors, Gibraltar Private Bank and Trust Co. is bulking up its assets and its adviser team.
Matthew Lapides, the managing director of Gibraltar's wealth management division, said the private banking company "hit a trough" in 2008, when assets under management fell 18.2%, to $900 million. But since the end of the first quarter it has added nearly $100 million of new assets.
"We are already on a strong upward trend from adding new business, and we are closing in on getting back over $1 billion in assets under management," Lapides said. "Our focus is really on growth."
Adding advisers is a key for the Coral Gables, Fla., company, Lapides said. This month it hired an executive from Citigroup's private bank who is an investment strategist and a private banker. It also hired a chief investment officer this month and made its former chief investment officer a fixed-income strategist.
"We have a solid pipeline of recruits, but we want to grow by adding the right people," Lapides said. "We don't want to just add staff to increase our head count unless we can find the right cultural match."
Gibraltar plans to hire across all of its markets in Florida, including Naples, Miami and Fort Lauderdale, and in its office in New York, Lapides said.
It also wants to cross-sell more wealth management products to its private bankers and lenders.
"We are really excited about increasing our collaborations," Lapides said. "We are doing some joint training from an academic sense and, from a cultural sense, people are getting more comfortable working together as teammates. That is the beautiful part about working in a boutique setting."
Gibraltar, which was established in 1994 and now has seven full-service private banking and wealth advisory offices, will have challenges and opportunities now that it is no longer affiliated with a large national banking company, analysts said.
"Gibraltar loses the capital associated with being a unit of large bank, but gains the freedom to make their own decisions," said Geoffrey Bobroff of Bobroff Consulting in East Greenwich, R.I. "It is an interesting position to be in, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them grow more quickly and more creatively."
Lapides said Gibraltar is "certainly exploring the idea of expansion in Florida and other markets."
"We want to grow in areas that make sense for our business model," he said.
"We are open to" expanding. "We are looking to expand organically and will look sensibly at growing beyond that."
To continue developing its wealth platform, Gibraltar announced Monday that it had struck a partnership with Prima Capital to enhance its wealth management platform.
Lapides said Gibraltar will be able to grow "in excess of 15% annually" over the next three to five years. Lapides, who worked at Merrill Lynch for 11 years before joining Gibraltar in March, said Gibraltar's independence is an advantage. "The speed with which we can make decisions and execute on those decisions is remarkable," he said. "We are in a position to right the ship quickly, and that translates to quicker growth in the long run."