Compass Bancshares knew it had to dump its proprietary fund family if it wanted to make any impact as a wealth manager, and it, like many smaller banks, believes it has found an impact product in separately managed accounts.

Todd Smurl, hired three years ago to run the $30 billion-asset Birmingham, Ala., bank's wealth management arm, said the $1.2 billion fund family was failing because it lacked "the requisite distribution and scale to grow and be profitable." Senior management then decided to adopt open architecture.

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