July 27, 2012 / 3:43 PM / in 6 years

TD hires private banker Leto to court New York area's rich

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Canada’s Toronto-Dominion Bank has hired former Standard Chartered Bank Americas private banking chief John Leto as part of a broader plan to expand its wealth management business in the United States.

Leto, a former chief administrative officer for Citigroup Inc’s private bank, joined Standard Chartered in 2009 to repair and expand a high-net-worth business spanning the United States and Latin America. Standard Chartered sold its Americas private bank to Banco Santander earlier this year, and Leto departed in March.

As head of TD Bank’s wealth business in the New York metropolitan area, Leto will be responsible for getting investment management, estate-planning and other wealth advisory business from millionaire clients from the company’s commercial and consumer bank, he said.

TD Bank’s U.S. franchise stretches from Washington, D.C., to Maine, and has offices in Florida.

Leto estimates the New York area, including parts of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, is home to as many as 700,000 millionaire households. TD’s high-net-worth business seeks households with $1 million to $10 million.

The New York area is already crowded with well-established brokerages, private banks and wealth boutiques. But Leto believes TD still has an opportunity to build a sizeable presence partly because Canadian banks weathered the financial crisis better than their American counterparts.

“The world has changed in the past five years, and the faith placed by investors in the financial services industry has changed,” Leto said.

TD does not disclose results or asset figures for its U.S. wealth business. It told investors in April that its 8 million U.S. bank clients collectively held about $950 billion of wealth, concentrated among people with $1 million or more to invest.

The bank estimates it has wealth management relationships with 3 percent of its customers who have more than $100,000 to invest. It has about 300 advisers and other employees in the United States focused on wealth management.

There is some potential for conflict between TD’s new U.S. wealth effort and the advisory business of TD Ameritrade, the online brokerage in which TD owns a 45 percent stake. TD Bank in the United States refers clients with $250,000 to $1 million to the affiliated company.

But Ameritrade also sells custody and other services to about 4,000 independent investment advisers, many catering to the same millionaire market now pursued by TD Bank.

“We are two separate companies with different client offerings, pursuing our own strategies,” Ameritrade spokeswoman Kristin Petrick said. “In terms of interaction between the two companies, nothing has changed.”

Reporting by Joseph A. Giannone; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn

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