Frances Aldrich Sevilla-Sacasa, who was born and brought up in Miami, took over as CEO of Itaú Private Bank International in Miami in April 2012.
Since then, assets managed by the Miami office, an arm of Brazil’s largest private bank, Itaú Unibanco, have doubled.
“We currently manage over $10 billion in assets,” said Sevilla-Sacasa, who has more than 35 years of experience in financial services.
“We’ve grown a lot, and we continue to grow, adding new clients in 2015.”
This spectacular growth was due partly to Brazilians moving money out of their country in recent years because of the economic decline and political uncertainty over high-level government corruption investigations.
It was also due partly to Itaú’s international reputation and reach, Sevilla-Sacasa’s skills as an investment advisor and the wide network of connections she has built over the years.
Brazilians and other clients from Latin America have brought their money to Miami — a convenient and strategic location — to protect their assets and explore new investment opportunities.
“Many of our clients here are Brazilians who are Itaú banking customers in Brazil,” said Sevilla-Sacasa, who holds a B.A. degree from the University of Miami (major in French and Spanish, minor in business) and an M.B.A. from the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona.
“They and other clients from Latin America want global diversification for their investments,” she said. “We tailor our portfolios to each client’s appetite for risk,” said the Itaú executive, who speaks English, Spanish, French and Portuguese.
The Miami private banking unit works exclusively with high and ultra-high net worth individuals and families. “All we do here is provide wealth management services,” she said. For customers who need additional financial services, Miami personnel link them up with other Itaú business units. The minimum for a private banking account is $1 million, but Brazilian citizens may open an “international investment account” for between $200,000 and $1 million.
Itaú Private Bank in Miami accepts investments from Brazilians and others who live in Latin America but not from U.S. citizens. Brazil generates 60 to 70 percent of the bank’s business, and Itaú competes with other global banks to attract private investments from wealthy Latin Americans.
The Itaú unit headed by Sevilla-Sacasa was set up in Miami in 2007. At that time, Itaú acquired the Miami private banking portfolios of BankBoston International and ABM AMRO, which gave the Brazilian bank an existing client base here. Today, the Miami operation has 157 employees.
Itaú Unibanco, the parent company, is one of the world’s largest financial institutions, with more than 93,000 employees and operations in 20 countries.
Banco Itaú S.A. was founded in Brazil in 1945 as the Banco Central de Crédito, which later became Itaú Unibanco. The foundations of Unibanco go back to 1924, when the Casa Bancária Moreira Salles was established. Banco Itaú and Unibanco merged in 2008.
The giant Brazilian bank is publicly traded, but three Brazilian families hold a majority of its shares.
Itaú means “black rock” in the language of the Tupí-Guaraní, an important indigenous people in Brazil, according to the bank.
Prior to taking over as CEO of Itaú Private Bank International in Miami three years ago, Sevilla-Sacasa headed wealth management businesses for financial institutions such as Bankers Trust Co., Deutsche Bank, Citigroup and Bank of America. She served as president and CEO of the U.S. Trust Co. and president of U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management.
She also led private banking businesses at Citigroup, where she was president of Latin America Private Banking, president of Europe Private Banking and head of the international trust operation.
Before joining Itaú in 2012, Sevilla-Sacasa served as interim dean of the University of Miami’s School of Business Administration while the university searched for a new dean.
Itaú recently played a key role in the Miami Open. The bank was the lead (presenting) sponsor for this year’s tennis event, which ended April 5. This was the first time Itaú was the main sponsor after several years as a supporting sponsor, and about 1,500 bank clients attended.
In Brazil and abroad, Itaú contributes to education, the arts and sports, so it was logical for the bank to take a leading role in the Miami tournament.
In addition to its sponsorship role, graphic artists who work for Itaú in Brazil designed the colorful, bouncing-ball logo used for the tournament, as well as the impressive crystal trophies presented to winners. “We’re a creative bank,” Sevilla-Sacasa said.
In contrast to previous incarnations of the tournament on Key Biscayne, in which main sponsors attached themselves to the official name of the event, Itaú did not.
“The tournament is about Miami and should be known as the Miami Open,” Sevilla-Sacasa said. “Miami is more than just a city, it’s a brand.”
ITAÚ PRIVATE BANK INTERNATIONAL MIAMI
Business: Miami-based Itaú Private Bank International manages the investments of wealthy individuals and families from Brazil and other parts of Latin America, but does not accept investments from United States citizens. The Miami headquarters is a key part of Itaú’s global private banking business, a subsidiary of Brazil’s largest private bank, Itaú Unibanco.
Corporate headquarters: Sao Paulo.
Itaú Private Bank headquarters in the U.S.: Miami, opened in 2007.
CEO: Frances Aldrich Sevilla-Sacasa.
Assets managed from Miami: More than $10 billion.
Founded: Banco Itaú S.A. was founded in Brazil 1945 as the Banco Central de Crédito. The foundations of Unibanco go back to 1924, when the Casa Bancária Moreira Salles was established. Banco Itaú and Unibanco merged in 2008.
U.S. operations: Aside from the Miami headquarters, there is a New York City branch that develops investment strategies and provides economic outlook data.
Employees: 157 in Miami. The parent company, Itaú Unibanco, has more than 93,000 employees in 20 countries.
Ownership: Itaú Unibanco is publicly traded, but three Brazilian families own a majority of its shares.
Source: Itaú Private Bank