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Affinity for Buffalo lures banker from Boston

Kyle S. Morgan was working for a financial services firm in Boston, Mass., when he heard about a job opening in Buffalo.

Morgan was intrigued by the opportunity, as a wealth adviser with KeyBank's private bank. He wasn't from here, but in retrospect, Buffalo essentially had been reeling him in. In fact, when Morgan found out about the opening, he was skiing with some college friends at Holiday Valley.

Morgan, 38, is a native of DuBois, Pa., about three hours down Route 219 from Buffalo. His father and grandfather were in the coal-mining business, which included dealing with bankers. Morgan enjoyed hanging around their office in the summers.

One Christmas, when he was 6 or 7 years old, he received his own briefcase. Inside was a Merrill Lynch statement, listing shares in Disney (No. 55 on the Fortune 500 this year) and Pan-American Airways (which shut down in 1991).

"I always like to say that was the first bit of investing that I did: one was a winner, one wasn't," he said.

After graduating from Penn State, Morgan went to work for Federated Investments, first in Pittsburgh, Pa., then in Boston. In 2006, his role expanded to include covering registered investment advisers throughout New York State.

During his visits to Buffalo, he befriended Robert Miller, an "old-school banker" who took Morgan under his wing. Morgan got familiar with Buffalo, which fueled his interest in Key's job when he was looking to move into private banking.

Morgan joined Key in June, and the Hamburg resident reflected on what drew him here:

Q: What were your early impressions of Buffalo?

A: When I first came here, I thought it was a really cool city. You look out across the lake and you see the old grain elevators, the architecture around town. It was very good I got to see that all the people in Buffalo, not just this one firm, were very proud of their city.

In my former role, I would just bounce into a city on a Tuesday and I'd be out on a Wednesday. So I didn't get a lot of time to see different places usually. But some of my clients here were so proud of the city they'd say, 'All right, let's go to lunch, but then I'm going to show you around a bit.' You would walk around downtown and people would explain to me the significance of the old Statler building and things of that nature. … From the first time I put my feet down in Buffalo, I really liked it.

Q: What appealed to you about Key's job offer?

A: I interviewed with about a half a dozen firms, from small little regional banks all the way up to a big firm like Goldman Sachs. I was most impressed with what I thought the plans were here at the private bank, of all those firms.

And I liked the team-style approach of what they were doing. As a wealth adviser sort of, for lack of a better word, being the quarterback and being able to bring in all the different areas of expertise, from financial planning to our trust and administrative work, to our investment management capabilities.

Q: Who are your typical clients?

A: It's generally sort of affluent individuals who have maybe started their own business. Maybe they're physicians, attorneys, that have gone out [on their own], small business owners. They've really sort of self started and built their businesses. And now they need a little bit of guidance. Perhaps their life's a little more complex. The old-fashioned index fund and 401(k) doesn't work anymore. They need to think about tax strategies, they need to think about trust planning. In many cases, they need to think about business succession.

Q: Do you see much wealth around here?

A: There's a lot of wealth here. We see a lot of clients who we're talking to who are either referrals out of our branch network, or clients we see throughout the community. There's very few that don't meet our minimums, I guess. We see a lot of clients in that $2 million to $5 million range that are prime candidates for help in their financial planning and whatever type of legacy they'd like to leave.

We also work with a lot of nonprofits, being able to work with them to manage their endowments and preserve those legacies for the future.

Q: What is the banking landscape like here compared to other cities where you've worked?

A: I think no matter where you go, whether it's Boston, Pittsburgh or Buffalo, there's a lot of competition for managing client assets. That's always a given. ... There's a lot of competition because there's a lot of people who treat wealth very differently.

I would say here, in Buffalo, the competition is primarily not always so much bank driven, but it's driven by a lot of the independent investment houses in the city who do a fine job in managing their clients' assets. They just don't have sort of the resources for financial planning, for borrowing or credit needs or trust work that we do here.

KeyBank, First Niagara Foundation give $2 million to Say Yes Buffalo

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