U.S. Trust today is the Bank of America Private Wealth Management division. It existed as an independent U.S. Trust Corporation from 1853 through 2000. At this time Charles Schwab and Co. acquired the bank and trust. They later sold it to Bank of America back in 2007. U.S. Trust today provides (as it has for two centuries) its clients with wealth structuring, investment management, and lending and credit facilities.
U.S. Trust has its headquarters in New York City on 114 West 47th Street in the United States. The firm counts more than 100 branch offices throughout the country across 31 different states plus Washington, D.C. They work to provide their ultra high net worth clients with specially tailored solutions and resources that help meet their needs for credit and banking, investment management, and wealth structuring. Teams of advisors serve the clientele through a wide variety of financial services. Chief among these offerings are financial and succession planning, investment management, specialty asset management, philanthropic asset management, customized credit products, family office services, family trust stewardship, and financial administration.
U.S. Trust arose in 1853 as a State of New York chartered bank. This makes it the original and also oldest such trust company within the United States. The new venture had the backing of a combination of wealthy investors who poured a million dollars into the firm which was called United States Trust Company of New York at that point.
Among the first board of trustees were thirty different influential and important New Yorkers. This included founding investor New York City Mayor Joseph Lawrence from the Bank of the State of New York who became bank trust president. Secretary of the trust went to United States Life Insurance Company of New York’s John Aikman. Among the other important founders were industrialist, inventor, and philanthropist Peter Cooper; Marshall Field the department store founder; President Shepherd Knapp of Mechanics National Bank of the City of New York; and steel and iron manufacturer and railroad developer Erastus Coming.
The company became founded to serve clients of individuals and institutions as a trustee and executor of their money. This proved to be an innovative concept as trusts had not been fully conceived of at this point. It only took till 1886 for the firm to be well-established as a stable and highly regarded financial institution.
Thanks to this growing reputation, by the middle of the 1800’s, the company had acquired a roster of super rich clients. It served a significant role in a number of nationally and internationally important construction projects like the Panama Canal and national American railroads. A great number of the firm’s corporate clients floated securities to help finance such building project initiatives. The trust got to play the part of corporate trustee in the projects. Such a boom in enterprising and industrial projects aided the business in expanding into the management of personal trusts for the super rich as well. By the 1880’s and 1890’s, the firm counted such prestigious and ultra high net worth individual as William Waldorf Astor, Oliver Harriman, and Jay Gould.
The company successfully managed to survive and thrive despite a range of damaging financial crises in the last half of the 1800s and the early 1900s. In 1928, it counted over a billion dollars in trust assets. It stood well above its vastly smaller rivals. Thanks to the company’s emphasis on stability, it managed to ride out the 1929 stock market crash and resulting decade long depression.
The company thrived by introducing additional specially tailored personal services in the next few decades. Among these were advising its ultra wealthy clients and families on careers, private schools, and universities for their kids. By 1958, U.S. Trust had begun its earliest ads in the newspaper society pages of The New Yorker. It was also advertising in the Metropolitan Opera and New York Philharmonic Society programs at this time.
Despite restructuring in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, the company still became a takeover target by Charles Schwab and Co. in the year 2000. It ceased to be an independent prestigious outfit of nearly 150 years long at this point.