If you work as a private banker you will be pitching for business and building relationships with existing clients so you can sell them investment products and help with them with a range of other business and family services. This can involve a lot of travelling and close contact with demanding people – relationship managers have been known to compare themselves to general ‘family advisers’ akin to the family doctor.
“Private banking is quite different from other banking businesses – it’s a client-relationship driven model where business is on a recurring basis, unlike more deal-driven banking businesses,” says Jullie Kan, managing director and vice chairman Southeast Asia, private banking Asia Pacific, at Credit Suisse. “You don’t need to reset your client and revenue-base annually as it’s very much based on the philosophy of ‘once a client, always a client’, unless some adverse event triggers a termination of the relationship.”
Analyst and associate-level level jobs – often staffed by ‘assistant relationship managers’ – are all about providing support, usually to one particular relationship manager in your team. You won’t get assigned your own clients, but you will get to contact your RM’s clients on their behalf. You may find yourself preparing investment or credit proposals or discussing client-acquisition strategies, says Dylan Williams, managing director, head of England and Wales at Coutts.
“As a junior analyst you’ll be supporting a private banker in managing a book of clients and the day will vary depending on what activities have been planned with the advisers,” says Williams. “You would expect to be attending a client meeting to review their investments and other financial affairs and you would be actively involved in the preparation for the meeting.”
Kan says other junior-level tasks include: sending client investment-portfolio updates; executing client investments trades; reporting those trades to clients; communicating research reports and product ideas to clients; ensuring compliance requirements are met; and liaising with other departments to fulfil client instructions.
You may find yourself preparing investment or credit proposals or discussing client-acquisition strategies
If you make it to a mid to senior-level role, you assume sole responsibility for clients and have assets under management (AUM) and revenue targets to hit. Your job changes dramatically as a result. “You usually start the day by getting information about the latest updates regarding the markets, allowing you to be on top of trends and changes,” says Raymond Ang, managing director, regional market manager Singapore, at UBS Wealth Management. While some updates come by email, you’ll often attend morning meetings with research analysts who provide insights from the chief investment officer and discuss topics like sales, research, and changes in strategy.
“Having been updated, you meet with clients face-to-face to discuss and review their portfolios and investment strategies,” says Ang. “Clients are informed of the latest developments and you proceed with recommendations on the next steps in order to meet the clients’ needs. Equipped with data and CIO insights and the willingness to serve, you foster strong partnerships with clients to ensure that their needs are always met.”
Large banks are trying to sell more investment banking services when their more entrepreneurial clients
You won’t be able to meet your clients’ needs, however, without a strong understanding of your bank’s products. This means some of your day will be taken up by liaising with the firm’s product development specialists who are experts in a particular asset class like fixed income, equities, structured products, or investments in the private equity and hedge fund sectors.
If your clients are business owners – as is increasingly the case in Asia – a knowledge of investment banking products will also help. Increasingly, large banks are trying to sell more investment banking services when their more entrepreneurial clients want to expand their businesses. The likes of UBS and Credit Suisse employ small teams of bankers who co-ordinate work between the wealth management and investment bank divisions.
As a private banker you may find yourself working with clients across a particular region – a Swiss or London-based banker could have clients based across Europe, for example. However, larger firms also have country desks (e.g. many bankers in Singapore focus solely on the Indian market) and if you work on one you won’t have the same scope to expand your client book across different countries.