CHICAGO-As more banks weigh whether or not to offer separately managed accounts, their key considerations should include pricing, training, compensation and an open architecture platform that includes a mix of proprietary and outside investment products. That was the advice of speakers at Money Management Institute's Fourth Annual Separately Managed Accounts Conference here last week.

The first thing a bank must do is assess if the SMA business fits in with their business model and secure senior management buy-in. "The SMA platform has to be the most important thing on the president's agenda. If it is not, then it might be best to rethink the decision to start a platform," said Paul Ahern, a principal with Winslow Capital Group of Penobscot, Maine. The president has to understand the difference between commercial banking and wealth management. Otherwise, the cost and effort may not be worthwhile, he added.

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