No word is quite as important in wealth management today as ‘trust.’ Earning client trust is the first step in every transaction and foremost in the mind of Maurice Quiroga. He is managing director of the Private Client Group of National City, which came to St. Louis in 2004 and is now the sixth largest bank in the area.

“It’s important that National City be known as an organization people can trust, a firm committed to growing in St. Louis and hiring the best talent in banking and wealth management,” Quiroga says. Since its arrival, National City has doubled its branch network and also focused on specialty service groups like its Private Client Group, small business banking, mortgage services and insurance service groups.

While financial woes have afflicted all U.S. banks recently, National City has managed to position its balance sheet (as of June 1) with the highest Tier 1 capital of any major U.S. bank, the measure of liquidity by which banks are judged by the government. “We want to utilize this capital to manage our risk and loan portfolios and to help us grow in markets like St. Louis, where we feel the most growth potential is,” Quiroga says.

Some of the benefits of banking with such a stable institution include complimentary on-line banking and enrollment in the National City POINTS program, where reward points are given for every dollar spent when using your debit card and online banking or writing checks. “A person can accumulate points toward the purchase of reward items like iPods, cameras, golf clubs and travel,” says Quiroga. He also notes that National City has been ranked one of the top 10 online banking providers.

For clients with $1 million in net worth and income in excess of $300,000, National City offers membership in the Private Client Group. “It is an important and distinguished invitation,” says Quiroga. “Members receive a client management team that focuses on four areas of expertise: estate and financial planning; private banking and customized lending; investment management; and brokerage and insurance services. Our focus is to deliver a financial plan that will help meet the needs of our clients.” Perks to being a member include fee-free access to all 1,793 ATMs in St. Louis. The bank also has a team dedicated to handling members’ needs and providing them with a complimentary financial plan for successful wealth transfer.

National City also helps St. Louisans plan their estate to provide for both family and philanthropy. Comprehensive, well-designed transfer plans can offer financial security for the family, the opportunity to minimize tax liability, and the chance to leave a lasting legacy, Quiroga says. “Your hard-earned success deserves proper preservation,” he comments. “We have two attorneys on staff and the fiduciary expertise to work with your advisers to manage and oversee your estate plan wishes.”

The bank’s private banking and customized lending cater to the complex borrowing needs high-worth individuals face. “Whether it be lending for fine art, or lending into a privately held business, we have the expertise and the technology to underwrite it,” he notes. “With our strong balance sheet, we can make loans in the hundreds of millions of dollars out of the Private Client Group.”

Reflecting on investment management, Quiroga says, “Market volatility can be very unsettling. At National City we work with our clients to ensure their portfolio is positioned to weather turbulence. There is no cookie-cutter approach to investment portfolio management; it’s our job to build portfolios around the level of risk families want.”

As start-up firms enter the picture and larger legacy firms work hard to retain their clients, the St. Louis wealth management marketplace continues to evolve, Quiroga notes. National City’s philosophy is founded on a 163-year record of working in the communities it serves to build a strong legacy, Quiroga says. “Our business utilizes the word ‘trust’ because clients have to trust who their adviser is, trust in the advice they’re given, and trust that the outcome of their relationship will meet and exceed expectations,” he concludes.