Investment management at the new BankAmerica Corp. is likely to emphasize individuals over institutions.
Merger partners BankAmerica and NationsBank Corp. this week announced a slew of executive appointments for their combined bank. Owen G. "Bob" Shell, the head of asset management for NationsBank in St. Louis, was appointed president of all the wealth management businesses of the new BankAmerica.
In an interview Wednesday, Mr. Shell said his unit-which includes private clients, investment management, and consumer investments-would seek to serve people with $1 million of net liquid assets.
"We are more of a retail franchise," Mr. Shell said.
"I don't want to indicate that we're not in the institutional business. But it's more in line with supporting corporations, institutions, and government entities we already do business with."
Mr. Shell said he expects to meet next week with Mike O'Neill, BankAmerica's chief financial officer and vice chairman, to map out a detailed organization chart for his business. Mr. O'Neill will be president of the new company's financial services unit.
They will be joined at the meeting by BankAmerica's William M. Goodyear, head of companywide private banking and chairman of its Illinois bank, who has been tapped to run private-client services for Mr. Shell.
Martin E. "Sandy" Galt 3d and David Fisher from NationsBank will continue to run portfolio management and trust, respectively.
"What we have learned, especially in this part of this business, is that you need to move rather quickly in terms of making personnel decisions," Mr. Shell said. "When you are managing money for individuals and institutions, they get nervous if they don't know who is in charge."
He should know. Mr. Shell began his asset management career when he oversaw the merger of investment management, trust, and private banking after NationsBank bought Boatmen's Bancshares.
Mr. Shell said the new BankAmerica will adopt a model used by NationsBank, in which the private-client group comprises relationship managers. These executives, many of whom have lending backgrounds, are to call on portfolio managers, trust officers, and other specialists in the wealth management group to help them serve their clients.
Ideally, Mr. Shell said, he would like to have Mr. Goodyear's private bankers working closely with the new wealth management group. Mr. Goodyear was traveling and unavailable to comment.
NationsBank and BankAmerica now have $120 billion and $74 billion of assets under management, respectively. Neither company would specify the mix of assets between institutional and individual clients.
Mr. Shell said the new banking company will have offices in 18 of the 25 wealthiest markets in the United States. Therefore, the wealth management business will focus on individual investors.
From a wealth management perspective, the BankAmerica-NationsBank merger is expected to come together more easily than that of NationsBank and Boatmen's. That's because NationsBank and BankAmerica have similar approaches to the business.
Both have systems in which generalists, or relationship managers, tap into product areas, such as portfolio management, on behalf of an account. Boatmen's had a more traditional structure in which a client's primary contact could be a portfolio manager, a trust officer, or a lender.
BankAmerica restructured investment management last fall when Mr. Goodyear was appointed to run global private banking. At the same time, the company named G. Randy Hecht to oversee all investment management strategies.