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.

    Murmur along with me, those seeking inner peace and appeased clients: the word is “holistic”.

Three years ago, before Lehman and Madoff shattered clients’ confidence, the soothing formula might have been “absolute returns” or “structured products”. No longer. 

    Bankers shooting French cuffs in Super 180 suits and obsessed with spread sheets now are seizing on a word redolent of green tea, acupuncture, crystals and the New Age. 

    “Holistic” bubbled up at least four times at the Reuters Global Wealth Management Summit as bankers and consultants in Singapore and Geneva outlined how to keep clients after the market meltdown. 

    But what does a word meaning that whole entities have an existence other than the sum of their parts have to do with rich people and the gnomes that mind their money?

    “Holistic” in bank-speak translates as handholding, face time and hustling to assure wary clients bankers are on the job. Mass mailings are out, daily phone calls are in.

    The results have yet to be seen but bankers hope their “holistic” approach will prove to be more than the sum of its parts.

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