For Richard D. Byrd, the opportunity to move into the driver's seat at the wealth management division of City National Bank in Los Angeles was a no-brainer.

It meant moving from the much bigger Wells Fargo private-client services division, where he was the regional executive in charge of Southern California, but "for me, personally," Byrd said, "this was a chance to run an entire division. This was a chance to make the decisions. I was involved in decision-making at Wells, but I was not the ultimate decision maker. I wanted to be more directly involved in making strategic decisions."

At San Francisco-based Wells Fargo, he was one of nine regional managing directors in the private-client division. At City National, Byrd is now director of wealth management services and a member of the bank's executive committee.

Adding offices, employees and a wider array of open-architecture products should fuel "strong" organic growth in the wealth management unit, Byrd said.

"We can ramp this business up," he said. "We plan to broaden our partnerships" with money managers. "We plan to expand geographically. We are tight geographically now. We want to get closer to our current clients and gain exposure in wealthy neighborhoods."

City National provides banking, investment and trust services through 54 offices, including 12 full-service regional centers, in Southern California, the San Francisco Bay Area and New York.

Byrd said he plans to open new offices in California and "one or two" outside the state.

"We have the New York office, and it is very possible that we will look at opening another de novo operation outside of California," he said.

Analysts said that City National has developed a strong wealth management business in California but could be disappointed by the outcome of any effort to expand outside the state. Since 2000, its assets under management have grown 148.5%, to $16.4 billion at March 31.

(c) 2005 Money Management Executive and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Subscribe Now

Access to premium content including in-depth coverage of mutual funds, hedge funds, 401(K)s, 529 plans, and more.

3-Week Free Trial

Insight and analysis into the management, marketing, operations and technology of the asset management industry.