LEGACY Reuters Summits

from Summit Notebook:

Washington divided, more trouble ahead for Obama?

October 19, 2009

Washington insiders say that not since the 1890's have the people that represent the U.S. been so divided. From Gay rights to Afghanistan lawmakers are at polar opposites on issues that are on the Obama administration's agenda. What's next? And, what's likely to get the green light or the stop sign?

from Summit Notebook:

Time private bankers got professional

October 7, 2009

It's hard to imagine that a banker who represents multimillionaires would be anything but professional - but a top executive at a leading global bank thinks that's precisely the wealth management industry's problem.

from Summit Notebook:

Everyone needs a private banker

October 7, 2009
Everyone needs a private banker. Full service means exactly that for one speaker at the Reuters Wealth Management Summit. The 'normal' range of extras that wealth managers are offering super-rich clients under the banner Lifestyle Management has expanded as they scramble to keep on board clients whose massive wealth was rendered a little less massive during the financial crisis.   Citigroup's private banking arm keeps an art curator on staff to make sure clients don't overspend at auctions and maximise the value of their collection - it's a real problem apparently.   But one of the smaller banks represented at the summit goes a lot further than that. "We do pretty much whatever they want." On further investigation this stops short of walking the dogs but it does include managing fleets of vehicles, relocation for tax exiles, school selection for the rich in-waiting, wine cellar stocking, art advice (of course) and payroll services for the hired help.   But what was the most unusual request he has ever had from a client? "We were once asked pick up some strange medication and we organised the redecoration of the interior of a private jet in questionable taste," said one private banker. He wouldn't say any more, but some might think that was too much detail already.

from Summit Notebook:

Private bankers chanting new mantra

October 7, 2009

Private bankers still getting their ears bashed from clients enraged about massive portfolio losses now are chanting a new mantra.

from Summit Notebook:

Private Bank finds synergy in public bar

October 6, 2009

It is a little known fact that private bank Wegelin, Switzerland’s oldest bank is also active in the bars and restaurants business.

from Summit Notebook:

Swiss brand key to banks’ cache

October 6, 2009
One question kept coming up when I announced four years ago that I was moving from Washington to Geneva: "Will you get a Swiss bank account?" There is an unmistakeable international cache surrounding Switzerland's financial sector, whose infamy as a hiding place for Nazi gold has given way to Hollywood mystique about secretive numeric codes cracked by Da Vinci Code protagonists and James Bond.  But within the small Alpine country, which remains stubbornly outside the European Union despite sharing borders with France, Germany, Austria and Italy, bankers are in fact celebrated for being as dull as they are discrete.  Christian Raubach, managing partner of Switzerland's oldest bank, Wegelin & Co, told the Reuters Wealth Management Summit that the biggest Swiss banks rely on their "Swissness and security and boringness" to attract clients from abroad. Guillaume Lejoindre, managing director at the Swiss private banking arm of France's Societe Generale, said it was precisely this reputation that made Switzerland such a powerful financial power, even in an age when total secrecy has been abolished and big institutions like UBS admit to taking big risks akin to those that took down Lehman Brothers.  Droves of Saudi and Gulf banking clients file into Geneva to spend the summer with their families every year and wealthy Latin Americans are also clearly inclined to store their funds in Switzerland to try to make them less likely kidnapping and extortion targets. The strong overall brand means that the banks can charge a premium over other centres and also continue to draw in new funds even in dark economic times.  "What is the price of trust and confidence? What is the price of expertise? We all know that a Hermes bag is more expensive. Is it a problem? I don't think so," the Societe Generale executive said.  In this way, much like Swiss watches, Swiss hotels, Swiss chocolate and Swiss beauty creams, the biggest asset even the most endowed Swiss bank has is clearly its brand -- which may actually hold more value internationally than at home.

from Summit Notebook:

No-frills travel is on for private bankers

October 5, 2009

The days of luxury VIP lounges are gone for many private bankers, as the crisis forces them to travel economy to save money.

from Summit Notebook:

Private banking: you may be worth it

October 5, 2009

Those who tend to avoid posh restaurants in Geneva’s expensive Rue du Rhone district and famed private banks because they believe they are not rich enough may be given a second chance at century-old wealth manager Julius Baer.

from Summit Notebook:

Geneva is for wealth management

October 5, 2009

Even for an American who's not wealthy, Geneva has a reputation as a global centre for wealth management - the place the world's rich come to stash their money and (they hope) make it grow.