HSBC finding a wealth of opportunity in Amherst

When it comes to HSBC USA’s “wealth centers,” the Buffalo area is in exclusive company.

The bank operates only 21 of those centers in the United States, and one of them is in Amherst, at Transit and Maple roads.

HSBC’s wealth centers are like branches, but focus on higher net worth clients. Customers must be individuals with deposit balances of at least $75,000, or businesses with revenues of at least $5 million annually.

The wealth centers represent the latest change in strategy for HSBC’s retail network in the United States. 

Over a decade ago, HSBC sold its upstate branch network to First Niagara Bank. In 2019, HSBC returned to local retail branch banking, opening a branch adjacent to its back-office operations on Dick Road in Depew. The bank then added a branch at Transit and Maple.

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Nearly three years ago, HSBC announced it was getting out of mass market retail banking in the United States, to concentrate on international banking and wealth management. In 2022, HSBC closed its Depew branch and converted the Amherst location to a wealth center.

The wealth centers intentionally take an approach different from typical bank branches, said Racquel Oden, HSBC USA’s head of wealth and personal banking. 

Racquel Oden, HSBC USA’s head of wealth management and personal banking, talks about why Buffalo is a good market for HSBC to invest in.

“The (employees) within the wealth center are licensed individuals who can deliver wealth management investment services,” said Oden, who joined HSBC from JPMorgan Chase last December.

And the wealth centers focus on affluent international clients, she said.

“That’s what’s uniquely different for us and why we committed to this strategy,” Oden said. “What I love about it is the focus. We have a clear lane that we can distinguish ourselves as being able to deliver an international experience for affluent clients, with both everyday banking but very importantly, wealth management.”

Oden said 75% of the clients the Amherst location serves are from outside the region.

“I actually consider this one of our international corridors, where they are able to service people around the United States, as well as around the world,” she said. “Buffalo is where we’re testing this model and it’s proving out to be incredible.”

HSBC recently consolidated its local offices at a new location: the Larkin U Building, in Larkinville. The bank sold the Atrium location next door to KeyBank Center, and opted to leave its leased space on Dick Road.

The Larkin U building was most recently occupied by KeyBank, which took over the space after its deal for First Niagara Bank.

Oden said HSBC remains committed to Buffalo.

“It’s core to our strategy,” she said. “This is where we do primarily a lot of our growth and hiring that’s going to happen here.”

Oden also shared some observations on the economy:

• Based on input from HSBC’s chief investment officer, she expects the Federal Reserve cut interest rates three times this year, starting this summer.

• The U.S. labor market is holding strong, Oden said. “If you really look at the fundamentals, the U.S is actually doing extremely well. Our international clients are very interested in investing the U.S.”

• Oden expects to see a greater shift toward “reshoring” and “nearshoring,” bringing more manufacturing closer to the United States. “It’s not that you’re not going to get things from offshore. It just means you have offshore, you have nearshore. You have options.”

• Semiconductor manufacturing – an industry upstate New York is eager to cultivate – is attracting more attention in light of supply chain disruptions, she said. “When you have government support for something and business need, the two tend to be a good combination. I call it the next stage of the manufacturing revolution, bringing it back.”

NexTier branching out to Buffalo

NexTier Bank, which is based in Pennsylvania, recently disclosed plans to open its first New York State branches, in Williamsville and Rochester. The bank is aiming to open those locations in the third quarter.

Neil Aquino is serving as senior vice president and New York commercial market lending manager. He and the rest of NexTier’s New York State team were formerly employed by Northwest Bank, and have worked together for over 15 years.

“To me, it’s about opportunities centered around our performers,” said Clem Rosenberger, the bank’s CEO.

“You can want to be in a market, but if you don’t have the right local talent to establish relationships and grow them, it’s just a wash and you’re not going to be successful,” he said. “We’re hopeful we can build in the region, but it’s key to finding the right individuals to help build teams.”

NexTier Bank

NexTier’s New York State team, from left, Michael Aiello, John Klatte, Neil Aquino and Zachary Jenkins.

NexTier faces the task of establishing its identity in a market where M&T Bank and KeyBank dominate in deposits and branch totals, and a number of other banks also have a foothold. 

Rosenberger described NexTier as a “community-focused institution, especially on the deposit side. We do best in smaller community markets where it’s about relationship building and supporting local teams.”

While NexTier is making plans for its first branch in the Buffalo area, so is Chemung Canal Trust. The Elmira-based bank is hoping to have its location on Main Street in Williamsville open in the fourth quarter.

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Five reads from Buffalo Next:

1. If eating healthy is good for you, why don’t food-as-medicine programs get better participation? A pair of UB researchers aim to find out why.

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5. Why the Buffalo Black Billion has struggled to gain traction.

The Buffalo Next team gives you the big picture on the region’s economic revitalization. Email tips to or reach Buffalo Next Editor David Robinson at 716-849-4435.

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