Bank of America turns to preachers and toxicologists in new recruitment drive

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In the competitive world of wealth management in the U.S, poaching from competitors is expensive, so more banks and broker dealers have to be creative. Developing talent in house is a key component, but that doesn't mean hiring in graduates.

Instead, firms are looking to hire career-changers who have an established network of contacts that serve as potential prospects. Bank of America's private banking and wealth management subsidiary, U.S. Trust, has recently rolled out a program find this talent, and they can come from unusual backgrounds.

“One of our recent graduates who became a PCA has a Master’s in divinity from Princeton – he ran a church until his wife got a professorship, and he did wonderfully in the program,” said Jeff Abrams is a managing director and national sales executive for U.S. Trust. “Another was an executive director of an educational foundation in Dallas."

“Another woman has a PhD in toxicology and pharmacology and joined the program because she wants to help the scientific community in their philanthropic endeavors – she did well,” he said.

Abrams heads up U.S. Trust’s Private Client Advisor Development Program. It hires candidates that are new to a career in private wealth management or who have junior roles at competitors. Participants in the 18-month program have an average of 10 years of working experience. U.S. Trust provides training and coaching to those taking part.

“Previously the only avenue into the firm was experienced recruitment – hiring experienced people from the industry that could immediately service our clients – but there wasn’t a good career path from within the bank,” Abrams said. “The question we asked ourselves was, ‘Can we grow our own talent in private wealth management and bring people in that would create a survival rate that would be meaningful to the people coming into the firm and our clients?’

To date, 61 candidates have completed or are currently in the program, 56% of whom are “diverse individuals,” meaning 44% are white males. The 12 program participants who made up the second class of the Private Client Advisor Development Program just graduated recently. In addition, 32 candidates began the program this month and another class will begin later this year.

U.S. Trust has a target number of 70 hires in 2017 out of the 2,000 applications for the program that the private bank received. Last year, the private bank did about 700 interviews in markets all over the country for the program.

Abrams said 28% of the people who U.S. Trust has hired via Private Client Advisor Development Program were previously working internally in a different division of Bank of America, with the other 72% external hires

Carrie Gilbert-Draper joined Bank of America eight years ago as a business banker. She participated in the second iteration of the new program to become a vice president and private client advisor at U.S. Trust.

Gilbert-Draper was initially introduced to the Private Client Advisor Development Program when she was tasked with presenting an overview of the business banking division to the first class. The program piqued her interested, so she sought out more information and ended up applying.

“I found out more about the program, how robust it is, taking people from all different kinds of backgrounds and introducing them to private banking for the first time, and I had pretty much learned what I could in my position, and given my experience working with business owners and wealthy individuals, there is a lot of synergy,” Gilbert-Draper said.

“Folks I was engaging with [as a Bank of America business banker] and the clients of U.S. Trust are one in the same, so I decide to explore private banking and figure out how I could enter a different division of the bank and connect with people at a different level, not just with them but also their families to do multi-generational planning, which is more inclusive than just working with a business entity,” she said.

Photo courtesy of Bank of America

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