Targeting charity

Bank of America creates charitable services unit.

By Todd Cohen

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. [05.10.04] — Bank of America, which manages more than $20 billion in charitable assets, has launched a private and charitable foundations group to serve wealthy individuals and families, and charitable institutions.

Focusing on philanthropic and strategic advice, the new group will integrate its services with others offered by the Charlotte-based bank’s private bank, says Tom Lawson, Winston-Salem-based Carolinas sales manager for the new group.

“Our whole approach with our existing customers and any potential customers is based on a system of integrated advice,” he says.

Teams providing those integrated services, which are coordinated by local private-bank officers who manage relationships with customers, also include investment professionals, trust officers and specialists known as “wealth strategists” who work with clients’ accountants and lawyers on tax and legal issues.

With a staff of 30 professionals serving five regions that include 39 states, the new group, for example, would serve as trustee or asset manager for charitable trusts created by a families or institutions.

Working through a local trust officer, the team would tap bank specialists to work with clients on the tax and legal implications of their charitable trusts, or call on investment professionals for advice on diversifying the investment of trust assets.

The group also will help institutions develop strategies for securing planned gifts through wills and estate planning, encourage individuals to make planned gifts and help structure them.

“Everybody’s trying to figure out, regardless of how large or small their organization is, how they position their nonprofit with their constituency to be thought of when it’s time to create bequests or charitable trusts,” says Lawson.

Lawson, who was executive vice president for donor services at the Winston-Salem Foundation and held development jobs at N.C. State University and at Appalachian State University in Boone, joined Bank of America two years ago as a private client adviser in the Winston-Salem office of its private bank serving wealthy clients, charitable trusts and nonprofits.

National director for the new group is Paul Dresselhaus, who is based in Tampa, Fla., and formerly was Bank of America’s private bank executive for Florida, while the group’s director for the region that includes the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida is Dave Jenkin, based in Atlanta, who was associate vice chancellor for development at N.C. State University and held development jobs at Clemson University and Tulane University.

The $20 billion in foundation, endowment and charitable assets managed by the private bank at Bank of America includes $5 billion through the merger April 1 with FleetBoston Financial.

Before the merger, charitable assets managed by Bank of America alone included more than $2 billion for more than 1,000 private foundations.

Ken Lewis, CEO of Bank of America, said in a speech this month in Boston that if charitable giving were a business sector, it would be the 10th largest in the U.S., ranking roughly between real estate and mining.

An enterprise that big, he said, “needs strategic thinking and planning.”

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