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New Wachovia Exec Eyes Mass-Affluent Trust Sales

Four months after being reorganized into a separate unit, Wachovia Corp's trust group plans to cross-sell its products and services down-market to mass-affluent customers of the parent bank and its brokerage unit.

Cross-selling is not a new concept for the Charlotte, N.C., banking company or for Wachovia Trust. The company's wealth management division has sold its products and services to wealthy trust customers for years, and the trust unit has gone after the wealth management division's customers.

But plans to aggressively sell trust products to customers with as little as $500,000 of assets is a bit more radical.

"We have always been very focused on the wealthy client, but now we are redoubling our focus on clients outside the wealth channel and in the brokerage channel," said Curtis C. Farmer, the new managing executive of sales and marketing at Wachovia Trust.

Farmer was recently promoted to increase sales of Wachovia's trust services through its 50 East Coast wealth management teams, 2,600 retail bank branches and 760 retail brokerage offices nationwide.

Farmer, who had been Wachovia's wealth management director for Pennsylvania and Delaware, said he is confident that his unit can increase its assets under management. Wachovia Trust, which is part of the bank's wealth management division in Winston-Salem, N.C., had $54.5 billion of assets under management as of March 31, according to data released last week. This was down 2.7% from the $56 billion the unit managed as of Dec. 31.

"We have a multi-pronged approach," Farmer said. "We want to service wealthy clients further, serve clients below the wealthy line and build relationships outside the footprint through our national brokerage network. If you look at the industry, there is a lot of focus on growing investment management but not as much on growing investment management and trust assets together."

Wachovia has worked hard in the past year to gather investment and retirement assets. It expanded its brokerage operation nationwide through a joint venture with Prudential Securities, and at the end of last year, it began an initiative called Private Advisory Banking to sell more investment services through its branches.

But according to analysts, it can be very difficult to take trust services down market because these products and services are costly and labor-intensive.

"There is a lot of manual labor with every trust created," said Kevin Daniels, a Boston analyst. "These are services that are reserved for the wealthy and the ultrawealthy" because they are too expensive to be sold to just anyone.

Still, Farmer maintains: "There are clients that fall below the wealth management target that have good potential for trust services."

Wachovia Trust is able to work successfully with both wealthy individuals and mass-affluent customers by tiering its services and their delivery, he said. Wachovia is going to pair its wealthy customers with trust officers, while its mass-affluent customers will work through call centers.

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