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Bank of America targets wealthiest clients with more advisers

The Bank of America building is shown in Los Angeles, California October 29, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Blake

By Dan Freed

(Reuters) - Bank of America Corp's U.S. Trust business plans to add more than 100 financial advisers who cater to the super-rich as part of its strategy to grow wealth-management revenue, a U.S. Trust executive said on Tuesday.

The number of private client advisers will rise to more than 450 from 323 over the next three years, Keith Banks, president of U.S. Trust said at a financial services conference in New York.

The move is the latest indication that big banks are emphasizing wealth management as a strategy to grow revenue while putting relatively little capital at risk, and the number of financial advisers at U.S. Trust is already at an all-time high.

The growth will come from new hires and an internal training program, Banks said. U.S. Trust also plans to hire more portfolio managers and trust officers to support the advisers, he added.

U.S. Trust clients typically have assets of at least $3 million, according to the joint presentation by Banks and Merrill Lynch Wealth Management head John Thiel.

Despite growing competition, banks continue to cite demographic trends to justify their emphasis on wealth management. Wells Fargo & Co, Morgan Stanley and UBS Group AG are among those competing with Bank of America for talent and customers in U.S. wealth management.

Wealth and investment management generated $4.4 billion in first quarter revenue for Bank of America, 21 percent of the total. Bank of America oversees $2.5 trillion in total assets, including $390 billion at U.S. Trust.

(Reporting by Dan Freed in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)