Think San Diego’s someplace special when it comes to high number of well to do, if not outright rich residents?

Well, think again.

Despite boasting such high-net worth residential enclaves as Coronado, Del Mar, La Jolla, Point Loma and Rancho Santa Fe, San Diego isn’t much different than many other metropolitan regions in the country.

That’s the observation of Luanne Bas, manager for Union Bank’s private banking office in San Diego as well as the manager of private banking activities in Southern California.

“I don’t think we’re different than any other large city in the U.S.,” she said. “There are enclaves of wealth in every city, and we’re not different.”

Like other areas, San Diego clients need a variety of financial services.

Bas is among the many working in the competitive world of wealth management, which ranges from so-called private banking banks to individual financial planners and lawyers who specialize in estate planning and trust services.

The 32-year banking veteran manages 15 employees from an office in La Jolla.

Her office both advises clients, as well as manages portfolios through its investment units, including Highmark Capital Management, which has $17.3 billion under management. She couldn’t say how much of that includes San Diego clients.

She said in some cases the bank only creates a plan that the client then uses, or the bank might manage all or a portion of the client’s investments and banking business.

“Very high net-worth individuals tend to split their relationships,” she said. We find that it takes time to grow that level of trust to the point where we become their sole trusted adviser.”

The important point here is caution.

Economic Challenge

“Obviously, the economy impacted many of our clients over the past years,” she said, which has made her job more challenging.

Bas said the long-term goal is to gain a “greater wallet share of their business” as the clients get more comfortable with the private bank.

Bas noted that her average customer profile includes the owners of successful small to medium-sized businesses that already have a relationship with her bank. Thus, the bank provides private banking as an extension of that relationship.

She said that her office has become “very proactive with our wealth clients, especially when the economy was trending downward.”

Meanwhile, La Jolla-based Torrey Pines Bank offers a different twist on services for its high net-worth customers, mostly the owners of privately held businesses in the region, many of whom have been successful in their entrepreneurial endeavors.

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