Interest rates are near record lows, forcing traditional banks to look elsewhere to shore up their revenue. One area they are making a big push to grow is wealth management. The services they are offering are not exactly like a private bank, but they amount to more than simply privilege checking. Which raises the question: What will affluent customers get if they bring their wealth management to a bank?

With that in mind, here’s a look at what some traditional banks are offering. Note that one of the four provided no information on costs and financial prerequisites for using these services; another refused to divulge its fees and a third said only that they "vary" and can be offered as a "value-add." (To read more, see What is private wealth management? and Private Banking vs. Wealth Management: Not Quite the Same.)

Northern Trust Wealth Management  

Investing: Bankers can create an investment strategy to help customers achieve their goals by combing advice, investment products and technology.

Trust and estate planning: Professionals at Northern Trust will create a trust and estate plan, including wealth-transfer planning, trust administration, estate settlement and guardianship services. (Read more here: Advanced Estate Planning: Using Trusts.)

Wealth planning: This service encompasses financial planning, family education and governance, tax and wealth-transfer strategies, philanthropy and business owner services.

Private and business banking: A private banker will assist in managing assets and liabilities, maintaining cash flow and providing liquidity for individuals. Business banking customers get a bank that acts as a financial partner to help them achieve their financial goals.

Cost: Customers must have $2 million in most areas of the country. Fees vary depending on what customers need, but in many cases spokeswoman Megan Bramson says they are offered as a value-add.

Wells Fargo Advisors  

Investment planning: Customers of Well Fargo Advisors get access to a financial advisor who can advise them on where to invest their money based on their goals. Under this service, customers also get advice about retirement planning, estate planning and education funding.

Advisory services: One-on-one consultations with a financial advisor, professional investment guidance based on research, and ongoing portfolio monitoring and portfolio rebalancing when needed are the services provided to clients. (For more, see Top 3 Trends Affecting Private Wealth Management.)

Lending services: Debt is a part of life, and Wells Fargo Advisors want you to have your debt with Wells Fargo. That is why it offers credit cards, securities-backed lending and home lending to its customers.

Cost: In general clients have anywhere from $50,000 to $5 million. Fees can range from 1% to 2% of assets, depending on the needs of the client says spokeswoman Rachelle Rowe.

Chase Private Client

Wealth management: Offering customers concierge banking, plus investment advice, Chase Private Client leverages the offerings of J.P. Morgan Chase to provide customers with a range of wealth management services. Clients of Chase Private Client get a professional from each area – one to help with their banking needs and a second to provide investment advisory services, plus retirement and estate planning.

Some of Chase Private Client’s wealth management services include:

  • Analysis of projected outcomes to aid in decision-making
  • Evaluation of risks to the wealth plan
  • Succession and business-selling planning
  • Charitable-giving strategies

Cost: Customers of Chase Private Client typically need $250,000 or more in investable assets, says Mike Fusco, a spokesman at JPMorgan Chase. “In our branches higher net worth customers receive a certain level of services and access to advisors and JP Morgan products,” he says. Fusco said the bank doesn’t disclose the fees it charges.

First Foundation Advisors

Financial snapshot: With the aim of creating a viable plan for people to manage their wealth, First Foundation Advisors (part of First Foundation Bank’s wealth planning division) provides each client with three levels of planning. It starts first with a financial snapshot to get a sense of your financial picture and your goals.

Comprehensive planning: Advisors work with customers to create a plan that matches the agreed-upon goals.

Advanced planning: Whether you need help with your estate or want to create a trust, First Foundation provides those services with its advanced planning. Customers can get financial and retirement planning, estate planning, business-succession planning and charitable-giving strategies.

Cost: Yani Altagracia Perla, communications consultant, replied that "we couldn't have a First Foundation spokesperson respond in time due to a bandwidth issue." Additional email and voicemail inquiries extending the timeframe did not produce a further answer.

The Bottom Line

Traditional banks are getting into the wealth management market, offering consumers a bevy of services to help them manage their wealth. But not all of the services are created equal – and it may be difficult to get reliable information on actual costs at the beginning of the process. All of this shows that you may need to do considerable homework before finding the best bank for your situation.Secrecy about fees could mean some may be negotiable, but you will have to confirm this.

You also need to know if the wealth advisor holds to the fiduciary standard, which means advisors have to put your interests ahead of their own, or just the suitability standard, which means advisors only have to ensure the investments fit your objectives, time horizon and risk tolerance.  See also What You Need to Know About the Fiduciary Standard.

Be aware of the extra costs associated with the increased hand-holding you get with wealth management services. Compare them to the costs of using a traditional broker or other financial advisor. Get fee information clear and in writing before you sign up for anything.

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