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.
"There is so much mediocrity in the industry we have to raise the bar here," said Gerard Aquilina, vice chairman of Barclays Wealth, at the Reuters Global Wealth Management Summit in Geneva.
To Aquilina's way of thinking, private bankers need the same "institutional rigor" as investment bankers in the way they operate. To this end the bank is looking to pursue only top-quality hires.
"Our strategy is not to be the hoover that comes and hires willy-nilly, we want to be much more selective," said Aquilina -- perhaps an ironic view given Barclays acquired thousands of investment bankers from the ashes of the fallen Lehman Brothers last year.
But he and his colleagues are so sure of their position that he said they are working on developing MBA-level courses with some unnamed top universities on private banking, especially as they see fewer and fewer interns turning up their noses at the prospect of a three-month rotation in the private banking shop.
They're not alone, either. Alexander Classen, head of EMEA wealth management for Morgan Stanley, said his firm too was seeing more and more people turn up to recruiting presentations on college campuses, whereas at one time they would have summarily shunned the private bankers for the investment banking sessions.
Things may have changed since then, but private banks may still have their work cut out if they want to attract talent early. After all, as Aquilina himself admitted, "There are not many people at eighteen who say, 'Hey Dad, I want to be a private banker'. Most people just fall into it."