Financial Firms Investing in Wealth Management Personnel

In the banking and financial services industry, experienced wealth management executives are worth their weight in high-yield CDs, according to Don Cunningham, CPC, president of Tulsa-based BancSearch Inc.
Cunningham, whose firm has served the financial industry at the middle and upper management levels since 1980, completing searches in 39 states and Puerto Rico, said the strength in the wealth management arena is directly tied to the baby boomer generation entering retirement age.
“There is multi billions of dollars of wealth transfer that will occur during the next 10 years,” he said. “I think we will see wealth management, private banking and trust relationships growing, and new companies entering into that industry that are significant.”
“That’s where we want to be,” he added.
A check of listings on his Web site, www.bancsearch.com, showed nine positions listed in the Investment Management, Private Banking, Trust and Wealth Management sector with salaries up to $250,000 plus bonuses.
As a result, “on a national basis, 2007 will be a very, very successful year for a majority of the companies serving the banking and financial service sector,” Cunningham said. “If you look at the Dallas, Houston and Atlanta markets, the major cities, they are having significant increases in 2007 over the previous year.”
Although he would not disclose revenues for BancSearch and holds the names of his clients close to his vest, he said, “Let’s just say that the executive search industry is a very healthy industry right now.”
Cunningham, who has served on the executive committee of the National Banking and Financial Services Network since 2000, said BancSearch operates nationally with three recruiters, including his wife, Maggie Cunningham, CPC, who specializes in the wealth management sector. He said he originally started the firm as Sunbelt Careers in 1980, but changed the name to BancSearch in 1994 to more accurately reflect the firm’s market specialty.
He said there is also a significant demand locally and nationally for experienced, qualified commercial lenders, and cited the lack of investment in training of new commercial lending talent, beginning in the early 1980s, for the shortfall.
“The industry went through a significant period of not developing and training officers,” Cunningham said, noting Tulsa-based Bank of Oklahoma has recently reintroduced a management training program.
He said there are a number of banks that have realized they must have training programs to develop the next generation of management personnel.
“I am happy to see it,” he said. “Banks are beginning to recognize that they need to have the credit-trained individual who becomes a commercial lender who has the underlying credit skills so they can potentially become a management person in the banking industry. Somebody has to invest to train those people.”
The training gap has resulted in a shortfall in Oklahoma of banking managers between 35 and 50 and that “management gap is really coming to the forefront,” Cunningham said.
The local industry is beginning to import trained officers from other parts of the country into Oklahoma to fill management roles, he said.
“For example, I just moved an executive vice president from Ohio to fill a head of operations position for a Tulsa bank,” he said. “Why Ohio? Because the candidates that were surfaced by this bank out of the immediate Oklahoma market just didn’t have the skill level or experience level of an individual that I could bring in from another state.”
Cunningham said most of the demand for qualified commercial lenders is coming from smaller banks – the $300 million to $5 billion asset banks that need that internal talent.
“Larger banks can assemble internal credit staffs, and have a means of approving their loan portfolio through specialized individuals they can hire, bring in and establish a credit division,” he said. “A smaller bank has to find, in most instances, commercial lenders who have an underlying credit skill.”



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