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June 26, 2023 FOCUS: Wealth Management

Amid great wealth transfer, Hildreth leads Bank of America Private Bank’s CT market

PHOTO | CONTRIBUTED Annie Hildreth at the beginning of this year became the managing director and Connecticut market executive for Bank of America Private Bank.
Annie Hildreth
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Despite lackluster population growth for more than a decade, Connecticut remains a popular market for wealth management firms, lured by the state’s vast base of high-net worth individuals.

A key player in the market trying to navigate those competitive waters is Annie Hildreth, managing director and Connecticut market executive for Bank of America Private Bank.

She took on the role at the beginning of 2023, after 10 years with the financial services giant. She now leads 93 private bank associates who serve Greater Hartford and New Haven.

Bank of America is one of the largest wealth management players in the state, and Hildreth’s marching orders are to grow the company’s roster of high- and ultra-high net worth clients, who include business owners and individuals on either end of the generational wealth spectrum, she said.

For Bank of America Private Bank, clients must have at least $3 million in assets under management, and net worths range into the hundreds of millions of dollars, she said.

Collectively, her market oversees $16 billion in client assets.

One of the biggest growth opportunities for Bank of America and other wealth management firms, Hildreth said, is the upcoming “great wealth transfer,” in which an estimated $84 trillion is going to pass from the Silent Generation and Baby Boomers to younger generations by 2045.

“There’s a huge amount of money going from one generation to the next,” she said.

Each generation may have built its wealth differently, but there are similarities when it comes to management.

“The oldest generation did a great job setting a foundation. And I’ve seen just the same need with the next generation around planning,” she said.

Wealth spectrum

Amid that wealth transfer, customer referrals are a big part of the strategy to grow and retain clients, Hildreth said.

Satisfying established clients will increase the likelihood they will refer their children, or other younger potential customers, to Bank of America, which operates one of the oldest and largest private banks in the U.S. that offers trust administration, investment management, philanthropic services and custom lending.

It also offers specialty asset management for real estate, art and private business ownership interests.

Bank of America uses that diverse array of services and a team-based model — in which a client can have up to five specialized experts working on their account — to differentiate itself from competitors, Hildreth said.

It has also put a focus on digital tools that are especially important to younger generations.

“The next generation wants a high-touch as well as a high-tech model,” meaning they want asset management at their fingertips through computers or smartphones, but also be able to reach an advisor to consult with, Hildreth said.

“So, we have to deliver an amazing digital platform and outstanding service to meet the clients where they are, but just in a way that involves the human touch, plus the technology,” she said.

More established clients who are looking to retire arguably require the most decision-making from a wealth management standpoint, Hildreth said.

Those clients are looking to preserve or grow their assets, and they need cash-flow management to ensure their income will last through retirement, and through the next generation.

They may also look to spend their hard-earned money, start or sell a business, downsize or relocate their homes, bestow a gift to family, or define their legacy through philanthropy or a private foundation.

Well-established market

Prior to joining Bank of America Private Bank, Hildreth, 43, spent 10 years at Fidelity Investments working in sales, relationship management, strategic planning and risk management.

This year marks a decade at Bank of America.

Prior to her current role, she served as the market executive for the Private Bank’s philanthropic division, which manages endowments and foundations in the Northeast. She lived just outside Boston and would often visit Connecticut to meet with the market team and talk about the philanthropic relationships they have with hospitals, clubs, museums and private foundations.

“So, I’d be working with the team and I got to know them well,” she said on what piqued her interest in relocating to Connecticut for her new role.

The Connecticut market executive at that time was Jane Schellens, whom Hildreth called “an amazing leader.” Schellens approached Hildreth, letting her know she was considering retirement in the next few years.

“She asked if I would be willing to take on the position as market leader while she remained in-state, and then she would retire and I would take her position. It was amazing succession planning, and so I moved from outside of Boston to Connecticut, and I knew I was going into it with a team that was very strong, and a market that was well established.”

Hildreth said she was mentored by several strong female advocates and leaders.

Joe Gianni, president of Bank of America in Greater Hartford, said Hildreth “is highly organized, very creative, and an excellent problem-solver.”

In terms of her community involvement, Hildreth serves on the board of the Boys and Girls Club of Hartford.

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