Old National Bank Debuts Wealth Management Business

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Old National Bank premiered its new wealth management division on Wednesday, following a 2022 merger with First Midwest that essentially doubled the bank’s managed assets. The launch is central to the Evansville, Ind.-based bank’s mission to shift to a more client-centric service model.

1834, a division of Old National Bank, provides boutique family office services to high-net-worth individuals and institutions in tandem with its SEC-registered entity, 1834 Investment Advisors. A separate brand launched simultaneously, called Private Wealth Management, offers advisory services to individuals with less than $2 million in investable funds.

Led by CEO Chady AlAhmar and former Abbot Downing executives Jim Steiner and Joe Colianni, the new division offers a range of integrated services, including financial planning; investment management; trust and fiduciary services; estate planning and administration, private banking; institutional services; and a range of specialized services, such as succession and executive compensation planning.

“We’re not really creating something new, we’re repositioning,” said AlAhmar, explaining that high-net-worth assets have traditionally been managed on the Old National trust platform, while brokerage and private banking operated as separate units. Under that model, he said, the trust officer generally functioned as the primary client relationship manager.

“The idea here was to take these pillars, flip them to the side, and make them shared services,” he said. “Now clients have what looks like a family office that provides private banking services, potentially brokerage if needed—and we can use the RIA infrastructure to manage the money.”

CEO Chady AlAhmar

1834 CEO Chady AlAhmar

Clients will work with a designated advisor who has access to a team of in-house professionals, including trust officers, financial planners, private bankers and portfolio managers. The goal is to be seen as “a one-stop-shop” for all financial needs, AlAhmar said, but there will be no pressure to move assets to the new platform. The expectation is that the new structure will attract plenty of additional AUM.

“Having one, hopefully unbiased, advisor who can make sense out of the larger financial picture,” he said. “I think that’s going to be big as clients see us shifting from a product-based focus to more holistic, goals-based planning.”

They should also notice a greater focus on goals and legacy, he added, describing the typical 1834 client as a multi-household family, often tied to a business, with at least $5 million to invest or $10 million in net worth. These tend to be focused on the utility and preservation of wealth rather than on its creation, he said.

“Things that are less about money and more about the purpose of money,” he said. “In my opinion, that has much more value for our 1834 clients.”

Of Old National’s $28 billion in total managed assets, 1834 oversees approximately $22 billion—$1 billion under the RIA and $22 billion on the legacy trust platform. The division employs 100 professionals in offices throughout the Midwest, including recently added locations in Nashville, Tenn., and Scottsdale, Ariz.

“This is part of the strategic growth of Old National,” said AlAhmar, adding that 1834 will look first to create additional satellite offices in the southern United States to accommodate existing clients with seasonal homes in the region, as well as in the Midwest where Old National already has an established footprint as the region’s sixth-largest bank. M&A deals are unlikely in the near term except on an “opportunistic” basis, particularly in regions where Old National has existing brick-and-mortar shops.

“We have so much room for growth in our existing book of business that I’m not going to rush,” AlAhmar said, citing record valuations as a key deterrent. “At the same time, let’s say we find an RIA that is attractive in Scottsdale and gives us a boost there. Are we go going to consider it? Absolutely. But it must make sense.”

The move away from products and toward service comes a little more than a year after Old National reached a settlement with the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana over a lawsuit alleging redlining in the bank’s lending practices.