Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Wells Fargo joins push to serve rich Mexicans

Citizen Staff Writer

A new office capitalizes on Tucson’s popularity with wealthy residents south of the border. Bank of America already offers such services here.

By OSCAR ABEYTA

Citizen Business Writer

Financial institutions here are banking on Tucson’s popularity with wealthy Mexican citizens, and are hoping to cash in by opening offices that would cater to those international clients.

Wells Fargo Bank recently opened an international office division of its Private Client Services Office.

“Tucson has always been the location of choice for wealthy Mexicans in Sonora and Sinaloa to do business in,” said Don Romano, regional manager for private client services in southern Arizona. “This is where they have their second homes, this is where they go to the doctors.”

He said the international office will handle the same Wells Fargo private client services offered at other locations – investment management, private banking, trust and brokerage services – but will be staffed with people who are bilingual and bicultural.

He said the office has two financial consultants, two private bankers, a portfolio manager and a trust officer, plus several assistants concentrating solely on the Mexican market.

The international office is part of the Private Client Services building at 2195 E. River Road.

Last summer Bank of America announced it was opening its International Private Bank here to cater to those same wealthy Mexicans who wish to establish a second home in Tucson.

Tucson is just the latest “gateway” city in which Bank of America has set up international banking services. The bank has multi-lingual offices in Washington, D.C., Miami, Houston, El Paso, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Now York, Seattle and Vancouver.

This is the second international office for Wells Fargo along the border. The bank has another office doing the same thing in San Diego and has plans to open one in Texas, probably in Houston.

Romano said the international private client service offices are part of a larger strategy to provide banking service along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“The Wells Fargo philosophy is we really want to grow the international business,” he said. “The bank is also very interested in lending to businesses down in Mexico.”

Romano said one of the challenges the office faces is how to reach and market to a very elite segment of the population in Mexico.

“There are serious limitations to what we can do,” he said. “We pretty much have to rely on word of mouth from our existing clients and referrals from them.”

Romano said he views Mexican private client services as a growth industry but said he didn’t have any way to track growth yet.

“We’re really too early in the game to be talking about substantial numbers yet,” he said. “We’ve got big hopes and big dreams, though.”

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