Maurice Quiroga

Financial recovery requires knowing how to adapt to ever-changing trends, especially when it comes to managing personal wealth. “While some investors might be turning away from advice because of the current crisis, many are going to require guidance all the more,” says Maurice Quiroga, managing director and executive VP of National City’s Private Client Group.

    Because the country is emerging from what appears to be the most serious financial and banking crisis since the Depression, Quiroga says wealth management firms have a responsibility to help clients find the right solutions for maximizing their investments and, more important, minimizing risk. “I believe we’ve finally bottomed, and it’s entirely possible to see recovery at the end of 2009 or early 2010,” he says, adding that now is a good time for some investors to re-evaluate their risk tolerance. “After the Great Depression, it took almost 25 years to get back to the 1929 highs of the stock market. People who purchased stocks in 1932 saw great returns over the next 10 years. We could assume that the market will do the same this time.”

    Quiroga predicts the wealth management field will emerge stronger after the crisis, since it remains one of the healthiest parts of the financial industry. “Because of what’s happened, there’s a significantly heightened awareness about quality wealth management providers,” he explains. “Also, the changing demands of high-net-worth-individuals will weed out the weaker players.”

    Quiroga says it’s no secret that St. Louis is ‘over-banked,’ but clients are becoming increasingly sophisticated about their needs and what they’re looking for in a wealth manager. “Clients are using their own judgment rather than just relying on agencies, many of which were slow to react to deteriorating circumstances in 2007 and 2008,” he says.

    Quiroga notes that National City has remained consistent because it subscribes to a diversified model that helps it tap into four areas of expertise: asset management services, fiduciary services, estate and financial planning, and private banking solutions. “We feel those areas define what wealth management is today and what it will be in the future,” he says. “Many banks think they can enter into wealth management without the sophistication and training it demands. Wealth management is more than just private banking; it’s a holistic process of delivering advice based on solutions.”

    National City, now a part of PNC Financial Services, has been ranked the eighth largest bank-held wealth manager by Barron’s, Quiroga notes. It manages approximately $120 billion in assets, with 3,300 advisers serving clients in 14 states and in Washington, D.C. Its partnership with PNC creates a $286-billion-asset corporation and the nation’s fifth largest banking company.

    While it’s been a trying time for banks in general, Quiroga says wealth management is a great business to be in. “The reality is, wealthy individuals need advice, and they need it more than ever,” he says. “They’re willing to pay for good counsel and good management, and our role is to provide just that.”