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How do you find the right Private Bank?

For Private Bankers, the biggest challenge is to find the right Private Bank.  This is no easy task given the number of Private Banks around and the competitive and ever-changing landscape.

It’s always about KYC – Know-Your-Clients.  But equally important is to KYC your Private Bank.  It is pragmatic to manage the risks of your Private Bank since Private Bankers manage no small sum of money.  Hundreds of millions to billions of investment transactions a year and a large book size enough to buy a hotel anytime.

What if your financial institution (people) is taking unnecessary risks, turning a blind eye, distancing from responsibilities or toeing the line with regulations?

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Past Cases

” Banks don’t go to jail,

People do “

But even more importantly is to KYC yourself.  So how do you find the right Private Bank?


No.1 Review Your Existing Clients

Priority Banker
Priority Banker

Your clients is what you have now.  And before you start your journey of finding the right Private Bank, some questions you should ask yourself on your clients:

  • What is the current book size?
  • What is their net worth?
  • Are you their primary Private banker?
  • Are they the top 20% of their field?
  • What is their wealth growth rate?
  • What stage of life are they in?
  • What are the financial needs of your clients?
  • Do they have assets or businesses in a few countries?
  • Do they have complex family issues?
  • Are they the key decision makers?
  • Would you be building network & contacts quickly?
  • Are you finding new clients?
  • Are you not bringing some of your existing clients?


No. 2 Find Your Aspiration

PhD University Student
PhD University Student

Your clients are important, so are you.  Being a Private Banker is a long term career.  You would be dealing with clients who are not only wealthy, but also influential and successful.

Understanding how you would want your career to be developed is important.  If your aspiration is to be an artist, as a Private Banker, you would be likely able to find time to do so.  In fact, some of your clients may have interests in Arts too.  But if your aspiration is to be a pilot or doctor, which are time-intensive, your clients would feel that you are not committed to managing their mega-wealth.

And half the time you would be thinking this year may be your last year, you may want to join a Private Bank that has a sustainable Private Banking practices, one that rely less on the Private Banker.

But if you are still finding, it doesn’t really matter.  There would be something that you like or dislike.


No. 3 Know Your Preference

Singapore Financial Center
Singapore Financial Center

Join a fast-growing Private Bank or conservative Private Bank, or work with International Private Banks or Private Banks that focus on selected group of clients?  These are important decisions for you to make.

Your judgement would also be affected by your stage in life, your career progression, or if this is your first Private Bank.  Coming from a Retail Bank (with Private Banking services), an International Private Bank or Boutique Private Bank would also shape your preference, because of your prior experiences.

Sometimes, it is just getting bored with the existing Private Bank, the people and the routine work.


No. 4 Your Strategy

Chinese Family on Private Jet
Chinese Family on Private Jet

Perhaps you are driven and wants to be the top Private Banker with the biggest book size. Or you want to be the rock-star Private Banker with the most flamboyant connections?

Top Private Bankers are extremely low-profile, naturally because most Ultra-High net-worth clients prefer Private Bankers to keep a low profile, inviting less gossips and sensitive repercussions – Private Bankers & Private Banks have large amount sensitive and personal information about them.

Deciding the profile of clients you want to build and their financial needs would be important for you:

Type of Client’s Profile:

Traditional Client Base New Client Base
Business Owners Asset Rich Clients
Entrepreneurs MNCs Executives
C-Level Executives Startups Employees
Top Professionals Investors


For example, building a portfolio of fast-growing businessmen means you will have many corporate banking requests, loans & cashflows & capital market services alongside their personal financial needs.  In addition, they may see a major opportunity and liquidate 80% of their wealth with you, especially at the wrong market timing.

Or if you build a portfolio of old wealth, with many retirees and bond holdings clients in their 70s and 80s, you will be impacted by a low return of Return of Asset (ROA), inactive activities, and impacted by old-aged financial issues such as transfer of wealth and appointment of power of attorney.


No. 5 Selecting the right Private Bank

The Dollar
The Dollar

Finding the right Private Bank is the toughest.  There is never the right Private Bank that has all the products & services, the same strong leadership and a sustainable banking practice.  Just like the financial market, Private banks change according to future economic and financial trends.

But some major considerations could be:

  • Join an International, Regional or Boutique Private Bank
  • Join a new, conservative, neutral, aggressive or market leading Private bank
  • Join because of the people or the team
  • Join because of the brand
  • Join because of the pay
  • Join because of the banks’s strengths or weakness
  • Join because of the products & services
  • Join because you are bored, sick and unhappy of your old place
  • Join because you want a fresher challenge or a less pressuring environment
  • Most importantly, join because of clients


No. 6 Talk to Headhunters

Market Intelligence
Market Intelligence

Private Banking is a niche market with high barrier entry.  There are many headhunters working to get you into the right Private Banks.  To value-add, they publish industry reports on Private Banks.

Talking to them could get you some insights into who’s moving, what’s going on and where should you head to base on your profile, your portfolio and your experience.

But also just like you (you need revenue from your client), they need you to move.  So it’s particularly important to find a good headhunter.


No. 7 Talk to People in the Private Banks

Private Banker
Private Banker

There is no better way to know more by getting inside-information.  Get someone you know or you could get a referral to, to find more about the Private Bank you are interested in.  They could be someone in the Private Bank or someone whom had left.

Don’t just talk to the Private Bankers, Team Leaders, but talk to the Assistant Private Bankers, the Product Specialists, the Operational staffs, KYC & compliance team.

After all, it takes a big team and everyone’s support to provide top notch private banking services to your clients.

Related Articles:

Useful Lists:


2021 Data Release
2020 List of Private Banks in Hong Kong
2020 List of Private Banks in Singapore
2020 Top 10 Largest Family Office
2020 Top 10 Largest Multi-Family Offices
2020 Report: Hong Kong Private Banks & Asset Mgmt - $4.49 Trillion
2020 Report: Singapore Asset Mgmt - $3.48 Trillion AUM

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