State Street Corp. may try to expand its private client business by buying one or two smaller players, president and chief executive officer David A. Spina said Tuesday.

Speaking to a group of buy and sell side analysts at the company's yearly presentation in New York, Mr. Spina acknowledged that State Street had been outgunned in the personal trust area by such competitors as Northern Trust Corp. of Chicago. State Street, based in Boston, has focused on institutional asset management.

"There's high risk in acquisitions," Mr. Spina said. "Internal growth is more reliable. But private asset management may be an area we'd look into."

Mr. Spina said the outlook for growth in the individual wealth management business made it an especially attractive area for State Street. The company has $30 billion of private assets under management and two offices focusing on the business, one in Naples, Fla., and the other in Boca Raton, Fla. State Street manages $682 billion in institutional funds.

"That's an opportunity they need to capitalize on quickly," said Nancy Bush, an analyst with Prudential Securities Inc. "They've pretty much ceded that business to Northern Trust."

State Street has had plenty of experience in the back-office end of the private client business, Mr. Spina said. Many institutional clients will use the company as a processor only if it agrees to handle their private client transactions as well, he said.

Mr. Spina was named CEO in May and will assume the chairman's title on Jan. 1, succeeding Marshall Carter, who is retiring after eight years in the top job. Tuesday's meeting laid out Mr. Spina's agenda for State Street's future. Much of the growth is seen as coming from overseas, he said.

He emphasized the company's recent successes, including processing outsourcing agreements with Pacific Investment Management Co., Merrill Lynch & Co., and Scottish Widows PLC. Mr. Spina stressed that the Scottish Widows deal helped boost State Street's market share in the United Kingdom to between 10% and 15%. He said his goal is to increase that amount to 25% to 30% in the next five years.

Mr. Spina said that he would continue to focus on revenue growth but acknowledged that he would likely face a recession during his tenure as CEO. In that case, he said, expense cuts would be in order.

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