It’s perfectly possible to spot good private bankers within the first few minutes of meeting them – sometimes even before they utter a word.
As superficial as it sounds, successful relationship managers are often highly visible. When headhunter Shearer Liu meets private bankers for the first time, everything the candidate says or does sheds insight on their personality and success.
It’s not all that superficial
The kind of suit, the purse carried, the watch worn, the manner in which a candidate orders a drink and even the drink chosen, are all details Liu looks out for. Designer labels aren’t everything, but quality matters. This goes right down to the little details, like the wallets or jewellery. He explains: “Private banking is a very unique function; you’re dealing with ultra high net worth clients. Their lifestyle and tastes are very different, so in order to be able to connect and interact well with your clients, you have to be at a level that’s at least close to them. If you want to play the game properly, you have to look like a genuine player – dress smart and look elegant.”
Looking the (expensive) part also has another function: it tells the client that the banker is doing well and is successful at what he or she does.
Pretend to be who you’re not?
This could extend to taking on the typical hobbies of the rich, such as wine appreciation, art collection, or golf. Liu knows of relationship managers who don’t enjoy golf but force themselves into playing the game just so they can interact with their clients and build up a closer relationship.
Of course private bankers need to have the necessary financial knowledge and investment strategies, but good RMs also adapt themselves to their clients, so they are well-read, worldly and know something about everything.
The quick four
Appearances aside, a quick couple of questions can easily shed light on the caliber of a private banker. Liu typically asks candidates the following:
-How many key clients do you have?
-How well do you know them?
-What is your current book size like (total AUM)?
-What sort of revenue did you generate in the past six months?
Occasionally Liu also asks candidates the same question twice in between discussing something else. “This helps you see if the candidate is telling the truth. If he or she gives an inconsistent answer or hesitates, there is a possibility they are not being straight with you.” Naturally, if a candidate is well known in the market and has a proven track record, his or her AUM speak for itself and such tactics aren’t needed.