After two years of planning, PNC Bank Corp. of Pittsburgh is rolling out expanded asset management services to wealthy individuals.

During that time, the banking company has spent more than $10 million to broaden the focus of its high-net-worth business beyond traditional private banking and trust offerings, said Thomas K. Whitford, the chief executive officer of the company's new PNC Advisors subsidiary.

"It's really a client-driven strategy," said Mr. Whitford, who is also an executive vice president of the $74.9 billion-asset banking company. He stopped by American Banker's offices during a visit to New York on Monday.

PNC is expected today to officially announce the unit's launch. PNC Advisors offers investment advisory and trust services, private banking, full-service brokerage, and institutional investment management to clients with net worth of at least $1 million.

It consists of the former PNC Private Bank and Hilliard-Lyons Inc., the full-service brokerage that PNC bought on Dec. 1 for $275 million.

To improve its services to high-net-worth clients, PNC has opened a toll-free service center they can call seven days a week for 12 hours a day.

With about 100 employees, the service center expands customer access to account information and personal service.

Such access has become more important in this market, said William R. White, who heads the affluent-market consulting practice at Spectrem Group, a San Francisco-based firm.

Many mutual fund companies offer 24-hour access, Mr. White pointed out, but high-end providers have focused on doing business between 9 and 5-with the expectation that clients could reach their advisers at home at other hours.

Now, he said, "the service expectations ... of the mass market are working their way into the high-net-worth area."

PNC Advisors has also made a wider menu of products available. For example, clients of the former private bank could buy only Black Rock Funds, PNC's proprietary fund family.

Now customers can choose from 10 third-party funds as well as an array of hedge funds, exchange funds, derivatives, and insurance products, Mr. Whitford said.

PNC Advisors now has only 12 offices, with $65 billion of assets under management and $35 billion of assets under administration. But within three years it plans to open 50 to 60 offices, many of them in markets west of the Mississippi that PNC does not currently serve, Mr. Whitford said.

For example, PNC is looking at retirement belts such as Arizona and pockets of wealth such as Silicon Valley, he said.

That should help boost the investment management unit's bottom line. Last year the private banking unit contributed about 12% to PNC's net income, and Mr. Whitford said he expected PNC Advisors to generate revenues of more than $75 million in 1999.

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