Union Bank of California's new investment chief is overhauling services for wealthy individuals and institutions, with an eye toward bolstering customer loyalty.
Yoichi Kambara, a bank vice chairman who was named head of trust and private financial services last month, said trust services, investments, deposits, and credit for clients with net worths of $5 million or more will be centralized in a private banking group in January. Currently, those services are split up along product lines.
Mr. Kambara also said he plans to consolidate mutual funds and common trust funds under the bank's investment management division, Pacific Alliance Capital Management. Assets in that unit, which currently deals only with separate accounts for institutions and individuals, will have $16 billion of assets under management.
"The aim of this reorganization is to create a customer-oriented, dynamic marketing organization," Mr. Kambara said, adding he will not take credit for the idea.
"It's not management change-driven, it's really customer-driven," he said.
With the move, the $30.3 billion-asset Union Bank of California, a San Francisco-based unit of the world's largest commercial bank, Bank of Tokyo- Mitsubishi Ltd., is following in the footsteps of several banking companies, including Fleet Financial Group Inc. and PNC Bank Corp., that have streamlined their asset management businesses.
Union Bank next year plans to convert close to $3 billion of common trust fund assets into its proprietary Highmark mutual funds. Mr. Kambara added that the bank may make Pacific Alliance a subsidiary, another move made by banks preening to attract institutional investors. Currently, Pacific Alliance is part of Union's trust and financial services group.
"You strengthen your marketing position by being a separate business identity rather being a division of the bank," Mr. Kambara said.
Conversely, the private bank will strive to serve as a cohesive whole of banking and investing for affluent individuals. The unit will have 10 offices in California but is not limited in its geographic scope.
The reorganization is also designed to better define the West Coast institution as the U.S. asset manager for its parent bank.
"The global network of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi certainly brings a lot of potential merits to us," Mr. Kambara said.
"I would hope that Pacific Alliance becomes an active player in managing the global investments of Japanese institutional investors and pension funds," he added.
Pacific Alliance will be headed by senior vice president Clark Gates. Another senior vice president, Greg Knopf, will continue in his role as head of mutual funds.
The new private banking unit will be run by Helen Hitchcock, who has headed Union Bank's personal trust department in Washington state. Scott Racusin, senior vice president for private banking, will manage credit origination.