Private Jet for Billionaires, UHNWs
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Top 20 Common Misconceptions of Private Banking for HNW Clients

If you have $3 million, $10 million, $100 million or $1 billion, you may be using Private Banks to manage your assets.  But can you fully entrust your assets and rely on Private Banks? Do you get better pricing through private banks?  Do you get superior returns?  Can Private Banks help you to avoid tax, hide money, launder-money?  Are Private Banks owned by governments?  Can you trust your private banks?  Is private banking for every HNW client?  What are the common misconceptions of private banking for HNW clients?  Learn more about the top 20 misconception about private banking for HNW (high net worth) clients below.

 

” Do you get better pricing through private banks?  Do you get superior returns?  Can you trust your private banks?  Is private banking for every HNW client? “

 

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Top 20 Common Misconceptions of Private Banking for HNW Clients

Private Jet for Billionaires, UHNWs

What are the top 20 common misconceptions of private banking for HNW clients:

1) Private Banks Provide Access to Basic & Premium Banking Services

Private Banks Provide Access to Basic & Premium Banking Services – Except for private banks with retail banking, most private banks do not provide basic banking services such as ATM, Debit Card, Credit Card, Auto-recurring Payments.  There is also no access to island / country-wide retail banking facilities, which are provided by retail banks.  So if you have $10 million, and you need $1,000 in cash at 11 pm at night, your private bank is not the bank you can call upon.  Of course, if you have $1 billion and you need $10,000 cash urgently, your private bank / private banker may go-out-of-their way to help you.  Almost all private banking clients will have retail bank accounts for their day-to-day transaction needs. 

 

2) Private Banks only Serve HNW Clients

Private Banks only serve HNW clients – Private banks provide services to not only to HNW clients including family offices, but also professional entities including asset managers, corporate entities, endowments & charities.

 

3) All Private Banks Provide Concierge Services

All Private Banks provide Concierge services – Concierge services are often provided by credit cards issuers (issued by banks).  While for private banks, some private banks provide concierge services internally or via external concierge service partners.  Common services, include private jet booking, concerts, butler service etc.  But not all private bank provide the concierge services.  And for some private banks providing the services, they may only offer the concierge services to their highest tier clients.

 

4) Private Banks are Government Owned Banks

Private Banks are Government Owned Banks – Private banks are like any other banks, can be government owned, publicly listed, or private owned.   There is no higher degree of protection for private bank clients, compared to any other banks.  Most countries have a deposit insurance program, which insure a specific amount of deposits should the bank collapse.  For investments held under custody, the bank is holding in trust for you, and thus the investments belong to you.  

 

5) Private Banks are Owned by Banking Group

Private Banks are owned by Banking Group – International & regional Private banks are mostly owned by banking group while boutique private banks also be owned by families or a consortium of investors. 

 

6) Private Banks are Independent of Politics

Private Banks are Independent of Politics – Private banks are managing client assets in privacy especially in offshore banking centres, but are also dependent of politics.  Many private banks have to comply with global, home-country, and domestic (Eg. Hong Kong, Singapore) regulations, including if the client of certain nationality can have a private banking account (country relationships), or if certain services can be provided (United States citizen global tax).  There are also global disclosure requirements such as for tax (FATCA, Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) and exchange of information (Common Reporting Standard, CRS). 

 

7) Private Banks Help You to Avoid tax, Hide Money, Launder-Money

The World of Billionaires

Private Banks help you to avoid tax, hide money, launder-money – Although, private banks are a prime channel to avoid tax, hide money & launder money, private banks do not provide active services to avoid tax, hide money or launder-money.  For tax, instead, some private banks provide clients with accounting, or tax advisory to reduce & optimise tax liabilities, design products to offset impact of tax or engage external partners to support client in tax matters. 

To hide money, Private bank is a good platform to keep assets private and in secret, but this has changed in the 2010s with the implementation of FATCA & CRS. 

Private banks, like any banks, remains a channel to launder-money.  Clients can provide false or withhold information or design complex structures, avoid detection by private banking compliance & surveillance tools, and consequentially use private banks to launder money.  Due to government, political or legal issues, some nationalities, entities or individuals could be blacklisted, and would be classified as “laundering money.”  For example, ousted ex-political leaders, presidents and accused of “corruption” who had setup accounts in offshore private banks, before being ousted.  Other cases that are less debatable and generally accepted as money laundering would be drug-dealing, human trafficking, military & arms dealing to United Nations blacklisted countries.  Most private banks have a strong process to reject private bank account opening, or close the private bank account who are identified to “launder-money.” 

 

8) Private Banks are 24/7 Access

24/7 Access – Some Private Banks provide near 24/7 trading & investment access, but not all private banks do it.  If you have urgent issues, your private banker is the main point of contact, and if your private banker is on holiday or block leave, you will have to contact the private banker assistant, who may still need the private banker to return to make decisions. 

 

9) Private Banks Give Better Pricing

Better Pricing – Generally, private banking clients can get better pricing compared to retail pricing.  However, this is also dependent on the strength of the private banking (Do they have a central trading desk, are they a market-maker etc, channels to product setup).  

 

10) Private Banks Gives You Priority Access

Priority Access (Wealth, Importance, Revenue) – Yes, you do have priority access but all clients are HNW & VIPs too.  So when it comes to the crunch, who gets priority access may come down to wealth, revenue, or relationship importance to the private bank.  The private banker may also be competing with other internal private bankers. 

 

11) Private Manage Your Wealth for Generations

Asian Family, Billionaires & UHNWs

Manage your Wealth for Generations – Private banks used to manage wealth for clients for a few generations.  This has changed a lot in the last 10 years including private banking changes (private banks merged, acquired, shutdown, increased scrutiny & regulations), private banking leadership changes (stability, relationship with leaders), private bankers job changes, evolving needs of HNW clients, more options to choose from to manage wealth & assets.  Some private bankers are also setting up their own EAM / IAM or MFO, or joining one.  Some private banks have been revealed to act against the interests of clients, or breach regulations increasing distrust with the private bank.

 

12) Private Banks are Loyal to You

Loyal to You – With increased competition & drive for business growth, most private banks are loyal to your wealth & assets.  Unlike previous decades in which private banks may support you through crisis (recession, business collapse), private banks of today is unlikely to be able to do it due to business reasons. 

 

13) Your Relationship is Important to the Private Bank

Your Relationship is Important to the Private bank – The larger private banks will build key services to strengthen relationship with you, while the smaller private bankers rely on private bankers or niche service offering to strengthen relationship with you.  

 

14) Your Relationship is Important to the Private Banker

Your Relationship is Important to the Private banker – Private bankers who will move to different private banks, private wealth firms, investment services or collaborate on businesses ,will find more ways to strengthen their relationship with you. 

 

15) Private Banking Advice are Accurate

The World of Billionaires

Private Banking Advice are Accurate – Generally, private banks provide information, knowledge, guidance, best-practices, recommendations (advice) but clients will still need to make the decisions.  Banking advice are more straightforward, while investments and wealth advice are more subjective.  Their interpretation can also differ from the experts or private bankers, due to their background or experience.  If you go to different private banks or private bankers, you may find different advice. 

 

16) Private Banks Gives You Superior Returns on Investments

Superior Returns – Private Banks typically provide more investment access & opportunities to you, compared to retail banks, brokerage platforms or wealth management firms, but does not necessarily provide superior returns.  Also, most private banking accounts are on a self-directed investment execution basis (You made the decision to invest).  In addition, not all private banking clients are looking for superior returns.  Some clients primary needs for for custodian services, trust administration, offshore booking centre or for privacy. 

 

17) Your Investment Return is their KPI

Portfolio Allocation

Your Investment Return is their KPI – Unless your investment is in a discretionary portfolio with performance fee (similar to hedge funds or private equity), your investment return is not their KPI (Key-Performance-Indicator).  The primary service of private banking is private banking (personalised, dedicated, customised, integrated, convenience), together with key wealth management & investment expertise.  

 

18) Private Banks will Reimburse for Errors, Investment Losses, Fraud

Private Banks will Reimburse for Errors, Investment Losses, Fraud – Unless proven (agreed by private bank, or legally) that it is a result of actions by the private bank or private banker, there is no additional privilege in private banking recovery compared to retail banking.  In most cases, clients will need to seek legal recourse. 

 

19) All HNW Clients have Private Banks

All HNW clients have Private Banks – Not all HNW clients have private banks.  In Asia, many HNW clients invest direct in properties & stocks, which can be accessed without a private bank.  There are also other alternate platforms to manage investments including brokerages, prime brokerages (for sophisticated clients, asset managers), financial advisory firms, private wealth management firms, external asset managers, independent asset managers, multi-family office.  For HNW clients who avoid investments, such as retirees, they still prefer their money to be placed in a retail bank.  The benefits of retail bank is they can see the retail bank presence everywhere, and thus feel more “secure” daily.  Retail banks also advertise regularly on newspaper, online platforms and provide regular media updates such as announcement, interviews & content, reinforcing the image that their bank is still around and their money is in safe hands.

 

20) Private Banks can be Trusted

Private Banks can be Trusted – Private banks are like banks, which are considered the most trusted financial institutions for clients, and not all private banks are large financial institutions which are typically more trusted because of their size. 

Some private banks had also been revealed to act in conflict of interest, or had been entrenched in a wider web of fraud knowingly or unknowingly by other business units, or external wealth, investment or service providers.  With increased regulations by central banks & technology advancement, and much-publicised record fines of some private banks & banks, private banks are in multi-year operations to clean up their internal processes. 

 

The Top 20 Common Misconceptions of Private Banking for HNW Clients:

  1. Private Banks provide access to Basic & Premium banking services
  2. Private Banks only serve HNW clients
  3. All Private Banks provide Concierge services
  4. Private Banks are Government owned-banks
  5. Private Banks are owned by banking group
  6. Private Banks are Independent of politics
  7. Private Banks can help you to avoid tax, hide money, launder-money
  8. Private Banks provide 24/7 Access
  9. Private Banks gives better pricing
  10. Private Banks gives you Priority access (Wealth, Importance, Revenue)
  11. Private Banks manage your wealth for generations
  12. Private Banks are loyal to you
  13. Your relationship is important to the Private bank
  14. Your relationship is important to the Private banker
  15. Private Banks Advice are accurate
  16. Private Banks provide Superior returns
  17. Your investment return is their KPI
  18. Private Banks will reimburse for errors, investment losses, fraud
  19. All HNW clients have Private Banks
  20. Private Banks can be trusted

 

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