While rising ranks of wealthy individuals support growth in private banking, these are challenging times for the industry.
This is a challenging moment for private bankers, with tried-and-true business models threatened from within and without the industry. Among internal threats, count relentless margin pressure from ever-cheaper, technology-driven money management strategies. Count also a rising generation of clients inclined to buy services à la carte and unimpressed by trusted advisers in oak-paneled boardrooms.
“The traditional asset allocation that used to cost 100 to 200 basis points you can now get for 30 or 35,” says Nalika Nanayakkara, who leads the US Wealth Management practice at Ernst & Young.
That’s a slow-burning problem for private bankers. Yet, the outside world is presenting more-immediate challenges as 2019 turns to 2020. China’s economy is cooling, due to structural issues that even a trade peace with the US can’t resolve. That has crimped the broader Asia boom, which drove growth in global wealth management for a decade. Only four of the top 20 private banks in Asia grew assets under management there in 2018, although a late-year market tailspin was partly to blame.
Economic growth is sputtering globally. Political unrest has erupted, from Chile to Hong Kong—indeed, the future of that great Asian financial (and private-banking) center looks increasingly uncertain. The Brexit saga is eroding London’s influence, too. The major central banks’ latest lurch toward near-zero or subzero rates may have put the final nail in the coffin of a centuries-old investment strategy: living off the interest of a conservative bond portfolio. Equity markets had a healthy 2019 (as of this writing). But private bankers are increasingly called upon to plunge into higher-yielding alternative investments without, somehow, risking their clients’ fortunes.
In this tough environment, the tough banks are getting going, leveraging their capabilities to the demands of the hour. Santander, Global Finance’s pick as Best Private Bank for Net Worth Under $1 Million, is extending elite financial services to the mass affluent, using burgeoning robotics technology and the bank’s Main Street presence from the UK to Brazil. Citi Private Bank, winner at the other end of the scale ($25 million or more), leans on its global investment bank to devise bespoke borderless strategies for the ultrahigh net worth crowd. Singapore-based DBS, named Most Innovative Private Bank, is expanding its command of the digital frontier to lure tech-steeped Asian entrepreneurs.
J.P. Morgan Private Bank, 2020’s Best Private Bank in the World, does some of everything. Retail/corporate partner Chase provides a large feeder pool of prospective clients; the bulge-bracket investment bank goes into action deploying fortunes already made.
“There is no client too big or too small,” says Mary Callahan Erdoes, CEO of J.P. Morgan Asset and Wealth Management. “The complexity of what we do for you changes with the size and scope of your wealth.”
Erdoes does point to one important trend still working in private banking’s favor: The rich continue to get richer around the globe, despite all the turbulence. “The number of millionaires and billionaires continues to double all over the world as people invest and create new things,” she says. That’s also one more source of tension private bankers may have to cope with soon. But for now, it’s boosting business.
Global Finance staff select winners for these awards based on entries submitted by banks, company documents and public filings. No proprietary information was sought or shared in the awards process. We consider local market knowledge, global footprint and investment breadth and sophistication. Because metrics are rarely public in this sensitive corner of finance, we incorporate perspective from analysts and consultants. Performance data are also drawn from industry sources including Scorpio Partnership’s annual Global Private Banking Benchmark and Asian Private Banker magazine’s regional league tables. Size and growth are a factor, but Global Finance also considered creativity, uniqueness of offering and dedication to private banking as a core business either globally or regionally.
GLOBAL FINANCE WORLD'S BEST PRIVATE BANKS 2020
|Best Private Bank in the World||J.P. Morgan Private Bank|
|Best Boutique Private Bank in the World||LGT Bank|
|Most Innovative Private Bank
in the World
|DBS Private Banking|
|Best Private Bank for Social Responsibility||J. Safra Sarasin|
|Best Private Bank for Philanthropic Services||Coutts|
|Best Private Bank for Intergenerational Wealth Management||Julius Baer|
|Best Private Bank for Digital Client Solutions||DBS Private Banking|
|Best Private Bank for Islamic Services||Ahli United Bank Kuwait|
|Best Private Bank for Business Owners||UBS|
|Best Private Bank for Millennials||Standard Chartered|
|Best Private Bank for Family Office Services||Northern Trust|
|Best Private Bank Use of Technology||RBC|
|Best Technology Solution for Private Banks||KEB Hana|
|Best Private Bank for Entrepreneurs||BMO Private Bank|
|Best Private Bank in Emerging Markets||DBS Private Banking|
|Best Private Bank for New Customer Segments||Kotak Wealth Management|
|Best Private Bank for Net Worth Under $1 Million||Santander|
|Best Private Bank for Net Worth Between $1 Million and $24.9 Million||UBP|
|Best Private Bank for Net Worth of $25 Million or More||Citi Private Bank|
Regional Awards — North America
|Best Private Bank||RBC|
|Best Private Bank for Entrepreneurs||BMO Private Bank|
|Best Private Bank for Business Owners||Morgan Stanley|
|Best Private Bank for Family Office Services||Northern Trust|
Regional Awards — Western Europe
|Best Private Bank||BNP Paribas|
|Best Private Bank for Entrepreneurs||Société Générale|
|Best Private Bank for Business Owners||ING Private Banking|
|Best Private Bank for Family Office Services||Pictet|
Regional Awards — Central and Eastern Europe
|Best Private Bank||Unicredit|
|Best Private Bank for Entrepreneurs||Unicredit|
|Best Private Bank for Business Owners||Sberbank|
|Best Private Bank for Family Office Services||Credit Suisse|
Regional Awards — Caribbean
|Best Private Bank||RBC|
|Best Private Bank for Entrepreneurs||RBC|
|Best Private Bank for Business Owners||Scotiabank|
|Best Private Bank for Family Office Services||RBC|
Regional Awards — Latin America
|Best Private Bank||Itaú Private Bank|
|Best Private Bank for Entrepreneurs||BTG Pactual|
|Best Private Bank for Business Owners||Itaú Private Bank|
|Best Private Bank for Family Office Services||Citi Private Bank|
Regional Awards — Asia-Pacific
|Best Private Bank||DBS Private Banking|
|Best Private Bank for Entrepreneurs||Bank of Singapore|
|Best Private Bank for Business Owners||Credit Suisse|
|Best Private Bank for Family Office Services||UBP|
Regional Awards — Middle East
|Best Private Bank||Emirates NBD|
|Best Private Bank for Entrepreneurs||Doha Bank|
|Best Private Bank for Business Owners||Barclays|
|Best Private Bank for Family Office Services||Emirates NBD|
Regional Awards — Africa
|Best Private Bank||Standard Bank|
|Best Private Bank for Entrepreneurs||Nedbank|
|Best Private Bank for Business Owners||Standard Chartered|
|Best Private Bank for Family Office Services||Julius Baer|
|Azerbaijan||International Bank of Azerbaijan|
|Bahamas||Scotia Wealth Management|
|Bahrain||Ahli United Bank|
|Belgium||ING Private Banking|
|Belize||Caye International Bank|
|British Virgin Islands||VP Bank|
|Canada||BMO Private Bank|
|Cayman Islands||Scotia Wealth Management|
|Costa Rica||Citi Private Bank|
|Croatia||Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen Private Banking|
|Dominican Republic||Banco Popular Dominicano|
|Egypt||Credit Agricole Egypt|
|Ghana||Stanbic Bank Ghana|
|Hong Kong||Credit Suisse|
|Jamaica||National Commercial Bank|
|Japan||Julius Baer Nomura|
|Kuwait||Ahli United Bank Kuwait|
|Lebanon||Audi Private Bank|
|Luxembourg||KBL European Private Bankers|
|Monaco||Edmond de Rothschild|
|Morocco||Banque Privée du Crédit du Maroc|
|Nigeria||First Bank of Nigeria|
|Peru||Scotia Wealth Management|
|Philippines||BDO Private Bank|
|Poland||Bank Pekao Private Banking|
|Portugal||Banco Santander Totta|
|Puerto Rico||Banco Popular de Puerto Rico|
|Romania||UniCredit Bank Romania|
|Saudi Arabia||SABB Private Banking|
|Singapore||Bank of Singapore|
|Slovakia||Erste Private Banking|
|South Korea||KB Kookmin Bank|
|Thailand||Siam Commercial Bank|
|Trinidad and Tobago||Citi Private Bank|
|UAE||First Abu Dhabi Bank|
|United Kingdom||St. James’s Place|
|United States||J.P. Morgan Private Bank|
|US Virgin Islands||Banco Popular de Puerto Rico|
US Regional Awards Awards
|Midwest||Fifth Third Bank|
|West||City National Bank|
BEST PRIVATE BANK IN THE WORLD
A midsize private bank by global standards, with assets under management (AUM) of around $1.4 trillion, the house of Morgan is outmaneuvering bigger rivals. It gained more ground in Asia than any global competitor, by the latest figures. But it isn’t neglecting other regions. The bank launched a big push in Latin America this year to capitalize on turmoil in Mexico and other markets. It was an early entrant in Saudi Arabia, as the kingdom opens up its market and its rich individuals seek global diversity. It’s also growing rapidly in Germany and continental Europe by gobbling market share, says Mary Callahan Erdoes, CEO of J.P. Morgan Asset and Wealth Management.
The key everywhere is putting the client in charge, she says. “We’re not about hiring 1,000 people in China and hoping for the best,” she explains. “We grow as our clients’ assets grow.” One more thing Erdoes clarifies: “Our goal is not to be the biggest private bank, only the best.” This year it succeeds.
BEST BOUTIQUE PRIVATE BANK IN THE WORLD
Under the steady hand of its royal CEO, Prince Max of Liechtenstein, LGT is a repeat winner in this category. Right-sized at AUM of about $215 billion, the bank combines family-controlled intimacy with a war chest big enough for global ambition. It continued its remarkable march into Asia this year, taking control of India’s Validus Wealth and opening its first office in Thailand. Net assets increased at an annual rate of 6% from January to June 2019. Bold strategy, steady performance.
MOST INNOVATIVE PRIVATE BANK IN THE WORLD
DBS Private Banking
The wonder of Singapore, DBS continues to lead the field of fast-growing native Asian private banks. It sloughed off the rocky markets of 2018 to grow AUM by 7% and income from wealth management by 26%—figures boosted by its acquisition of Australian competitor ANZ’s private-banking operations in East Asia.
DBS’s trademark has been staying ahead of the tech curve. It launched its core online platform, iWealth, in 2011. The theme for 2019 has been taking that into China, launching a Mandarin version of iWealth and a dedicated wealth management channel on WeChat, the ubiquitous Chinese social network. Keeping above the political fray, DBS is also advancing in Taiwan. The best bankers can capitalize on any scenario.
BEST PRIVATE BANK FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
J. Safra Sarasin
Everybody talks about sustainability these days. But family-controlled Swiss private bank J. Safra Sarasin has been putting clients’ money where their mouths are for three decades, launching its first sustainable investments in 1989 and its first global equity fund in 1999. That’s grown to a suite of two dozen investment offerings, including six new ones in 2018 alone, from Green Bonds to Technology Disruptors. Next on the sustainability agenda is a global health-care fund.
Safra Sarasin’s motto, Sustainable Swiss Private Banking since 1841, underlines its own durability. Business isn’t bad either after all that time. AUM dipped a little in 2018, to 165 billion Swiss francs ($167 billion), but profit rose 10%. Sustainable performance, indeed.
BEST PRIVATE BANK FOR PHILANTHROPIC SERVICES
Brexit isn’t changing everything in the UK. The charitable impulse lives on among Britain’s well-to-do; and Coutts & Co., a fixture in the City of London since 1692, is still facilitating it. Building on the tradition of philanthropic Victorian baroness Angela Burdett-Coutts, the private bank became one of the first anywhere to house a dedicated giving team a decade ago. Its good works keep moving with the times, from enlisting acting superstar Benedict Cumberbatch to design a line of holiday wrapping paper, to efforts focusing on impoverished women and girls. That balance of change and continuity embody the best of Britain and of private banking.
BEST PRIVATE BANK FOR INTERGENERATIONAL WEALTH MANAGEMENT
Top-tier private banks offer 24/7 global reach and investment resources. Boutiques counter with cozy personal concern. Julius Baer, No. 3 in Switzerland with some $400 billion in AUM, bridges the two. It has expanded aggressively around the world while maintaining a traditional family-banker structure. That combination of thinking big but intimate has held onto clients’ descendants since 1890. It’s likely to last one more generation, at least.
BEST PRIVATE BANK FOR ISLAMIC SERVICES
Ahli United Bank Kuwait
Private banking services with an Islamic flavor are an Ahli United Bank Kuwait specialty. AUB-Kuwait offers a full range of wealth services—wealth and asset management, investment advice and support, real estate fund management and more—under ijara and murabaha financing principles. The bank brings four decades of local and global experience in private banking, and nurtures its wealthy clients with dedicated relationship managers, seminars and networking events, and exclusive offers, such as from topline credit cards Visa Infinity and Master World.
BEST PRIVATE BANK FOR BUSINESS OWNERS
Most people might think they’ve struck it rich with $2 million in liquid assets. Private banks are increasingly telling them otherwise, moving wealth thresholds up to $5 million and beyond. But not the biggest of them all, UBS, which is keeping its hallowed doors open to the mere $2 million crowd. That group surely includes many business owners who may be on their way to still bigger things.
Now, UBS wants to throw more of its weight into expanding its clients’ businesses. So says the most celebrated hire in private banking in 2019: Iqbal Khan, whose ex-employers at Credit Suisse had him tailed by private detectives after his defection, igniting a miniscandal in Zurich’s tonier precincts. One of Khan’s first stated objectives after joining UBS as co-head of wealth management was to increase the giant’s role as financier to its banking clientele. Still more reason for business owners to sign up.
BEST PRIVATE BANK FOR MILLENNIALS
The stock image of a millennial is someone drinking designer coffee in San Francisco or Munich. But Standard Chartered makes the plain-sight discovery that wealth is transferring fastest to younger generations where wealth is being created fastest: Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The London-based bank, whose constituent parts around the former British Empire date back 150 years, is focusing on this “emerging affluent” population for revival after some rocky years. Millennial-focused programs range from new digital services in the Gulf States to impact investing in Asia. This promises to be a crowded field going forward, but at least StanChart is looking for tomorrow’s customers in the right places.
BEST PRIVATE BANK FAMILY OFFICE SERVICES
Chicago-based Northern Trust has been serving family offices since 1982, long before they became fashionable. Now that the field is booming, the bank is racing ahead in offering a family office cloud, automated management and portfolio tools that simplify life for office CEOs and the family stakeholders they answer to. It collaborates with the Wharton School on academic research pointing to best practices for family offices and the banks that support them. While competitors scour the globe for new business, Northern Trust has stuck to the niche it pioneered decades ago. It’s paying off.
BEST USE OF TECHNOLOGY
The quiet giant of private banking, Royal Bank of Canada, ranks No. 5 globally, with more than $900 billion in AUM. It has gotten there by sticking with the markets it knows—North America and the Caribbean—steering clear of scandals and regulatory run-ins, and being a step ahead technologically. Example: NOMI, an artificial-intelligence (AI) system deployed in 2017 for portfolio management.
The bank has also filed for patents in cryptocurrency, with the goal of blending tokens and traditional money for global clients. That may help RBC with a belated push into Asia, driven by rich Asians’ extensive links with its native Canada, and vice versa. Management in Toronto moves cautiously, but decisively.
BEST TECHNOLOGY SOLUTION FOR PRIVATE BANKS
One of the top two private banks in tech-mad South Korea (its rival is KB Kookmin), KEB Hana has naturally been an early automation/AI adopter. Relationship managers were outfitted with tablets by 2014. Its Cyber PB robo-advising system was rolled out in 2016. KEB’s latest innovation is One WM, which links banking and investment services on one mobile platform.
KEB Hana is heavily focused on the rising generation of Korean tech entrepreneurs. It invites university students into the company as “honorary ambassadors,” soliciting new product ideas rather than just proposing them. It doesn’t neglect offline outreach either, continuing a matchmaking service that it launched in 2000 for young HNWIs.
Technology seems to be helping KEB Hana tighten its operational belt, too. It increased client numbers by 5% and AUM by 9% in 2018, while keeping head count steady. Those are healthy numbers.
BEST FOR ENTREPRENEURS
BMO Private Bank
With most of the world’s wealth self-made these days, every private bank targets entrepreneurs as clients. But BMO digs deeper to find tomorrow’s wealthy in places where globe-spanning rivals aren’t looking. Such as in Chicago, its US headquarters and home of the 1871 Innovation Program, an in-house incubator that has launched a dozen startups. Or Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Naples, Florida, each of which supplied three winners for the bank’s ongoing Celebrating Women initiative.
That isn’t the only BMO program to focus on neglected female entrepreneurs. Back home in Canada, where it maintains the original Bank of Montreal brand, it has set a goal of $3 billion invested in businesses run by women. Those that thrive can move seamlessly into a private-banking operation that just combined with in-house brokerage BMO Nesbitt Burns. By the time these entrepreneurs land on competitors’ radar, BMO will have earned a lot of loyalty from them.
BEST FOR NEW CUSTOMER SEGMENTS
Kotak Wealth Management
How’s this for a new customer segment: 100 million or so middle-class Indians. Combine this prospering nation-within-a-nation with some of the world’s fastest economic growth rates, and you get an exciting—if still small—market for private bankers. The number of ultrahigh net worth individuals in India is expanding by 10% a year, and 60% of them are under 40, Kotak reports.
A division of one of India’s most dynamic universal banks, Kotak Wealth Management is ahead of the competition in tapping this emerging-wealth lode. It started its private bank in 1998, and now counts 40 of the country’s 100 richest families as clients. There should be plenty more in time.
BEST FOR NET WORTH UNDER $1 MILLION
Nonmillionaires don’t get much respect from most private banks. Santander is an exception, setting the bar for prospective clients at €500,000 ($554,000) or £428,000. The grab for the mass affluent is part of an extraordinary expansion that has taken Santander from its Spanish origins to become a major retail and corporate banking force across Europe, Latin America and parts of the US. Not coincidentally, Santander is pushing the boundaries of automated finance, with an online-only subsidiary in Spain, Openbank, and investment tools any UK customer can buy for a £20 startup fee. The private bank’s customers will get a personal relationship manager, though, Santander promises.
BEST FOR NET WORTH BETWEEN $1 MILLION AND $24.9 MILLION
If clients feel like they’re with family at Union Bancaire Privee, that’s because they are. The Geneva-based house is still run by the de Picciotto clan that launched it in 1969. But its reach extends well beyond the Alps these days. Bold acquisitions and savvy strategy over the past five years, particularly in Asia, have swelled AUM by half, to around $150 billion. That has turned this boutique bank into a global player—but one of the few whose threshold is still at $1 million, not higher. The merely rich can feel superrich in classic Swiss style.
BEST FOR NET WORTH OF $25 MILLION OR MORE
Citi Private Bank
Think globally, make yourself available locally, and deal with only the really big money. That formula propelled Citi to a repeat victory in this UHNWI category. Homes, businesses and investments across the world are a given for its superelite client list. But that doesn’t mean they want to jet into New York or Hong Kong to see their private banker. Citi Private Bank boasts 25 offices in the US alone and 48 around the world, so a face-to-face client meeting is generally within reach.
Innovations from 2019 include establishment of the Private Capital Group, to serve as a bridge between the private bank’s clientele and Citigroup’s vast capabilities as an investor and lender. The NextGen program has also raised its game, now including seminars conducted by Silicon Valley’s Singularity University and Cambridge University. In keeping with its UHNW focus, Citi Private now advises some 1,100 family offices. Sounds like staying power.
BEST PRIVATE BANK IN NORTH AMERICA
While the big US-based private banks chased growth in Asia, the Royal Bank of Canada has stuck closer to its home continent—with great success. The wealth management arm of RBC has been ahead of the California wealth resurgence, acquiring Los Angeles-based City National in 2016 (Global Finance’s winner for best private bank in the Western US), and capping 2019 by poaching an all-star LA-based team from UBS.
BEST PRIVATE BANK FOR ENTREPRENEURS IN NORTH AMERICA
BMO Private Bank
Entrepreneurs spinning out of San Francisco, New York or Austin are besieged by wealth managers. Chicago-based BMO stands out by looking everywhere else on the most innovative continent, and by getting involved in businesses earlier through its own array of innovation-supporting contests and incubators. Servicing North American entrepreneurs is what the bank does, without being distracted by Asia, offshore zones or anything else.
BEST PRIVATE BANK FOR FAMILY OFFICE SERVICES IN NORTH AMERICA
Northern Trust is another heartland institution (BMO’s neighbor in Chicago) out-competing bigger coastal rivals by relentless focus on the family office space. Its global win for family office services is underpinned by its strong support for family offices on the North American continent and proactive adoption of technology that eases the customer journey.
BEST PRIVATE BANK FOR BUSINESS OWNERS IN NORTH AMERICA
Morgan Stanley inched past Wall Street rival Bank of America in the latest figures to become the biggest North American private bank, with about $1.05 billion in assets under management (AUM). Credit the global investment banking reach it can offer high net worth business clients, and the inside track it has long enjoyed with the burgeoning US tech industry. The bank isn’t resting on any laurels, though. The Multicultural Client Strategy Group within the wealth management division is dedicated to nurturing businesses run by women and “ethnically diverse” CEOs. A leg up on the next great client wave?
BEST PRIVATE BANK IN LATIN AMERICA
BEST PRIVATE BANK FOR BUSINESS OWNERS IN LATIN AMERICA
Itaú Private Bank
With political uncertainty spreading, from Mexico to Chile, Latin America’s high net worth clients need private banking like never before. Traditional regional champion Itau is ready, with new leadership at its international nexus in Miami and a new offshore center in the Bahamas. Itau’s home market in Brazil is running against the regional trend: The financial background has stabilized, and hints of growth are emerging, after years of upheaval and recession. That presents challenges of its own for clients who were used to reaping high interest in an inflationary environment. Itau’s expertise with alternative investments has pushed its share of the Brazilian market up to 30%: an enviable position.
BEST PRIVATE BANK FOR ENTREPRENEURS IN LATIN AMERICA
Pace-setting Brazilian investment bank BTG leaped into private banking five years ago by acquiring old-line Swiss house BSI. That created a unique offering for entrepreneurs in Latin America’s economic giant. Business is booming, now that Brazil looks to be turning the economic corner. BTG also chose its prime target for expansion outside Brazil well: Chile, where well-off families may be thinking much more about private banking, as riots rock the streets.
BEST PRIVATE BANK FOR FOR FAMILY OFFICE SERVICES IN LATIN AMERICA
Citi Private Bank
Before it was the best bank in the world for ultrahigh net worth customers, Citi was a leader in Mexico through its Citibanamex unit. The group has retreated from retail banking across the region, but retains a foothold in no less than 23 Latin American jurisdictions. That’s an unparalleled blend of regional knowledge and global muscle for clients in the family-office bracket.
BEST PRIVATE BANK IN THE CARIBBEAN
BEST PRIVATE BANK FOR ENTREPRENEURS IN THE CARIBBEAN
BEST PRIVATE BANK FOR FAMILY OFFICE SERVICES IN THE CARIBBEAN
RBC consolidated its Caribbean operations last year, retreating from seven smaller jurisdictions but shoring up in core markets such as the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas. That strategy will maintain a reliable profit center while reducing the regulatory and reputational risks around offshore banking. Canadian rivals Scotiabank and CIBC have also been readjusting their Caribbean profiles for new conditions. RBC’s global reach as an asset manager and investment bank stands out as an option for regional clients.
BEST PRIVATE BANK FOR BUSINESS OWNERS IN THE CARIBBEAN
How bankers from the Canadian maritime province of Nova Scotia set up in the Caribbean in the 1880s is a curiosity of financial history. But Scotiabank still thrives there, with a key presence in the international money hubs of the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas. This year it sold off troubled commercial banking operations in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands to focus more on private banking. Top management at Scotia made global wealth management a distinct business line for the first time, reflecting two acquisitions back in Canada and a declared appetite to build out in the US. That should only enhance the bank’s allure for Caribbean business owners.
BEST PRIVATE BANK IN WESTERN EUROPE
Dubai, California or Shenzhen may grab the headlines; but there’s still plenty of money in Europe. The biggest bank in France, Paribas has gotten busy close to home as the Asian miracle cools off—going on a hiring binge in Germany (No. 3 globally in ultrahigh net worth individuals), Italy and the Low Countries. The multimillionaire class may not be growing so fast on the Continent; but it is aging, providing rich opportunity for liquidity events and succession planning. Acting locally (more or less) seems to be paying off. Profit from the bank’s wealth and asset management division jumped 19% in the last reporting quarter. Très bien.
BEST PRIVATE BANK FOR ENTREPRENEURS IN WESTERN EUROPE
To the ranks of cheese, champagne and existentialism, Société Générale aims to add another celebrated French export: its formula for bringing private banking services to entrepreneurs. Unlike the heftier Paribas, France’s No. 2 has always limited its global ambitions to concentrate on Europe. Some years ago, it pulled a SWAT team out of its investment banking division—specialists in equity, debt, M&A and structured finance—for exclusive service to private clients. A hit in France, the service made its debut last year in SocGen’s international hubs: Switzerland and Luxembourg.
BEST PRIVATE BANK FOR BUSINESS OWNERS IN WESTERN EUROPE
ING Private Banking
College roommates becoming stock market billionaires may be the new wealth prototype in North America, but business in Europe is still about the mittelstand: medium-sized companies that typically stay within the founding family. ING, the Continent’s No. 10 bank by assets, is well scaled to focus on this broad middle while also offering global reach and sophistication. Private banking clients are typically tied into the “mid-corporates” investment banking division. ING goes the extra mile to build community, with an annual Entrepreneurs Week of workshops and social events that brings in 4,000 participants across a dozen European cities. It has joined Santander and a few others in lowering the private banking threshold to €500,000 (about $554,000), making it easier for the owners of growing businesses to join the crowd.
BEST PRIVATE BANK FOR FAMILY OFFICE SERVICES IN WESTERN EUROPE
Pictet and Julius Baer were the first Swiss banks to offer outsourced services to family offices, in the late 1990s. There were only a few hundred of them on the Continent back then. The number now is probably close to 2,000, with Asia approaching 1,000. Owner managed itself since 1805, the No. 4 Swiss private bank knows from experience about multigenerational management and preservation. Tradition is getting a jolt of dynamism from Boris Collardi, who joined Pictet in 2018 after eight years as a famously aggressive CEO of Julius Baer. The family offices Pictet is not managing can expect a sales pitch soon.
BEST PRIVATE BANK FOR ENTREPRENEURS IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE
The former Communist states in Central and Eastern Europe present a challenge many banks have given up on. The proliferation of small countries makes it hard to attain scale. The big markets, Russia and Poland, are subject to volatile politics that have marginalized or simply driven out foreign banks. Milan-based UniCredit has pushed on regardless. It’s paying off now, with a 14-nation network burgeoning with new entrepreneurs and wealth. Competitors will find this result of 30 years of footwork tough to match.
BEST PRIVATE BANK FOR BUSINESS OWNERS IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE
Central and Eastern Europe may be a hotbed of entrepreneurialism, but Russia is the place for big business. Sberbank has an inside track on the oligarch class as the country’s dominant commercial lender; and it’s capitalized on that to grow the private banking side, fast. AUM has tripled since 2016 to more than $12 billion, as oil prices rebounded and Russia came out of recession. The bank classifies three-quarters of its clients as business owners or managers. They’re sticking with the name they know.
BEST PRIVATE BANK FOR FAMILY OFFICE SERVICES IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE
The reputation of Swiss banking resonates strongly for the select few Central and Eastern Europeans who have graduated to the family office class. Among the Swiss houses, Credit Suisse has shown the most commitment to the region, entering aggressively in the 1990s and riding out more-recent storms when it had to ring-fence Russian oligarchs’ assets that might be subject to Western sanctions. Loyalty is bringing its rewards, discreetly of course.
BEST PRIVATE BANK IN ASIA-PACIFIC
DBS Private Banking
Most private banks saw Asian assets under management (AUM) shrink in 2018, as regional economies slowed and markets proved choppy. Not DBS, which reported a 7% increase in AUM and a bracing 26% jump in income for its wealth management unit. The 2019 numbers are not yet in, but key trends have tilted in DBS’ favor. Political unrest in Hong Kong increased the allure of the bank’s home base in Singapore as a safe haven for wealth. Trade war and capital controls in China shifted the focus of wealth creation toward Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia and Thailand, where DBS has a jump on multinational competitors.
Wealth management boss Sim S. Lim is certainly feeling confident, predicting in a recent interview that the bank will grow AUM another 35% by 2023. If anyone can pull that off, DBS will.
BEST PRIVATE BANK FOR ENTREPRENEURS IN ASIA-PACIFIC
Bank of Singapore
Wealthy Asians are apparently tilting toward their own banks for wealth management, particularly Singapore’s three banking tigers: Bank of Singapore, DBS and United Overseas Bank. No. 2 in this troika, Bank of Singapore (BoS) is focusing on the emerging entrepreneurial tycoons with advisory that reaches far beyond deploying assets to instilling ethics in the underlying business or planning ahead for succession. It seems to be working: Wealth management fees jumped by 11% year-on-year in the latest reporting quarter.
BoS is also looking to give European private banks that have been expanding in Asia a dose of their own medicine. It opened its Wealth Management Europe subsidiary in Luxembourg and London this year. Old World beware.
BEST PRIVATE BANK FOR BUSINESS OWNERS IN ASIA-PACIFIC
In 2015, Credit Suisse started a corporate overhaul with two broad objectives: Put the bank’s global capital market capabilities at the service of rich individuals, and mine for those rich individuals first and foremost in Asia. It’s bearing fruit. Credit Suisse added to its Asian AUM in the latest league tables, while archrival UBS slipped nearly 7%. Internally, the bank has struggled with fallout from “spygate,” the discovery that a private eye tailed defecting senior executive Iqbal Khan. But to Asian business owners, it’s a rock-steady presence in an industry constantly upsizing or downsizing on the continent.
BEST PRIVATE BANK FOR FAMILY OFFICE SERVICES IN ASIA-PACIFIC
UBP is a family business itself, run for 50 years by the de Picciotto clan of Geneva. It has pushed hard lately to bring its intimate Swiss model to the burgeoning markets of Asia. Single- and multifamily office services, which have had great success in Europe, are now available out of Singapore and Hong Kong, spearheading a wealth management operation that has grown AUM in APAC by half over the past three years.
BEST PRIVATE BANK IN THE MIDDLE EAST
BEST FOR FAMILY OFFICE SERVICES IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Around the world, there is more to private banking than money, but especially so in the Middle East—with its jigsaw of political and cultural sensitivities, and its vivid clash of modernity and tradition. Dubai-based Emirates NBD sails these rich but treacherous waters with native skill, equally at home with in-house sharia scholars for its growing Saudi Arabian business and high-end real estate agents to source brownstones in London. The bank does not neglect the rising generation either, being a regional leader in both digital technology and sustainable investment. This diversity of skills is paying off, with revenue up 16% from 2016-2018 and profit up 34%. Expansion in an opening Saudi Arabia promises more growth in years to come.
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The entire small nation of Qatar has been forced to get entrepreneurial since its giant neighbor, Saudi Arabia, instituted an economic boycott in 2017. Doha Bank has embraced the challenge. Maintaining traditional ties with the Gulf financial hub in Dubai, it is also stretching eastward, opening three branches in India and rep offices as far away as Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. This commerce-over-politics approach capitalizes on growing integration across the Indian Ocean.
Doha is identifying itself with a green future in a region better known for fossil fuels, offering preferential car loans, mortgages and credit cards for environmentally qualifying borrowers. This is speaking to the entrepreneurial ferment that often runs below the surface of conservative societies.
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While bigger global players have been chasing Asian fortunes for most of this decade, Barclays has been focusing on the Middle East. The British bank flagged the region as a key growth driver for private banking in 2013, and in 2017 poached a veteran UBS exec to head the franchise. Barclays isn’t after just any Middle Eastern millionaire: Working from its regional hub in Dubai, its practice targets clients with $5 million-plus in investable assets. Ties to the bank’s growing presence in Switzerland are a big draw. An excellent fit for business owners who have made it and want to preserve it.
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Expanding from its base in South Africa to a footprint in 20 countries (Uganda is the latest), Standard Bank once again takes the award for the world’s newest and most complex wealth frontier. With new money multiplying rapidly across its domain, Standard has to do a little of everything—from transferring tuition for a daughter studying in the UK to globe-spanning investments for a growing nucleus of family offices. It is working to build a culture of wealth even as it manages it—organizing fly-in seminars from Singularity University, golf tournaments and winery tours; or commissioning finance-related sculpture from local artists. Suitably for the youngest continent, Standard pays extraordinary attention to youthful potential clients, with five separate apps geared at ages 12 to 24. That should bear rich benefits in time.
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South Africa is a complicated place to get rich. Aside from universal business challenges, emerging entrepreneurs can’t help but confront their place in an unequal and restive society and weigh their obligations to those left behind. Nedbank is taking the unusual tack of putting those dilemmas front and center via a series of webcasts and public discussions on the theme “What story will your money tell?” It’s not all touchy-feely for the private bankers, though. The bank has been a digital leader, with award-winning apps. And it’s expanding to other markets though a strategic stake in West African power Ecobank. Côte d’Ivoire is first on the list for private banking services.
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To say Standard Chartered is more focused on Africa than are most global banks is a massive understatement. From its roots in colonial South Africa, the bank has spread to nine wealth management centers across the continent, from Côte d’Ivoire to Zambia. These offer a unique link for local business owners to a multinational private bank that can follow their interests, and diversify their wealth, around the world.
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Zurich neighbor Credit Suisse shuttered its South African office in late 2018, and Julius Baer stepped in to fill the gap. That brought one of the pioneers of family office services to the continent for the first time. That’s good news for South Africa’s estimated 92,000 high net worth individuals, and a promising sign in other fast-growing African markets.