LaSalle National Corp. has unveiled plans to create a wealth management unit by merging its trust subsidiary into its flagship bank.

The Chicago-based banking company, a unit of ABN Amro North America Inc., said the merger of LaSalle National Trust with LaSalle National Bank is slated for Jan. 2, pending regulatory approval.

Once the merger is complete, a wealth management group would be formed to cater to customers with at least $1 million of investable assets.

The group would house under one umbrella several businesses - including private banking, trust investment management, and trust administration - that are now scattered among several subsidiaries.

Accounts of high-net-worth clients of LaSalle's brokerage affiliate, ABN Amro Investment Services, would also be shifted to the wealth management group.

Upon completion of the merger, James B. Wynsma, president of LaSalle National Trust, would become a vice chairman of the bank. Mr. Wynsma is heading a search for an executive to run the wealth management group, and would supervise the new chief.

LaSalle National Trust administers $21.7 billion in assets and employs 307. No positions would be eliminated as part of the merger, a spokesman said.

Observers said LaSalle's action reflects a growing recognition that affluent clients want a coordinated approach to their finances.

"You have to have an integrated platform, rather than try and shoehorn the market into your organizational structure," said Jeb Britton 3d, a private banking consultant with San Francisco-based Spectrem Group.

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