Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Beautiful or ugly we’re all in this together – or not

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The massive overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system backed by President Barack Obama could face a court challenge if it is ever enacted into law.

Republican Senator Charles Grassley, speaking at the Reuters Washington Summit, said a number of people, including Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, have questioned whether it is constitutional for the government to require U.S. citizens and residents to purchase a product offered by private, for-profit companies.

WASHINGTON-SUMMIT/The U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce.

But many conservatives believe that clause does not allow Congress to require U.S. residents to purchase a good or service.

Healthcare reform legislation would require U.S. citizens and residents to purchase healthcare insurance, with the federal government providing subsidies to help low and moderate income people afford it.

Napolitano: recommendations split on threat color system

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U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says she is reviewing recommendations on the color-coded threat alert system and experts are evenly split over its usefulness.

She said the committee of experts that made the recommendations to her were “equally divided, 50-50″ on whether the color-coded threat alert system developed after the Sept. 11 attacks was useful. It currently stands at “yellow” for elevated.

Grassley grades Obama’s performance C to F

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We asked Senator Charles Grassley to grade President Barack Obama’s performance (close your ears Sasha and Malia) and the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee was a bit of a tough schoolmaster.

“He’s still learning an awful lot,” Grassley said at a Reuters Washington Summit.

Washington divided, more trouble ahead for Obama?

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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 DealZone:

Wealthy clients ask about Facebook relationships for kids

Northern Trust has thought very carefully about how to communicate with its wealthy clients. In the U.S., it says it has people within a 45 minute drive of 50 percent of all of the millionaire households.

It advertises on NPR, CNBC, the Wall Street Journal, and local newspapers.

Now it might start “friending” people on Facebook.

“We had a client earlier this year who asked if we could be a friend to their child on (her) Facebook page because the child is a beneficiary of a trust that we manage and they said what better way to get to know my child when they’re awfully remote than to do this through the Facebook page?” said Lee Woolley, President of Northern Trust Bank’s Personal Financial Services division in Boston.

Time private bankers got professional

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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.

Everyone needs a private banker

- 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.

Tax evaders on the run

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  By Neil Chatterjee
    The U.S. has promised it will hunt down tax evaders.
    And it seems tax evaders are on the run.
    DBS bank, based in the growing offshore financial centre of
Singapore, told Reuters it had been approached by U.S. citizens
asking for its private banking services. But when told they would
have to sign U.S. tax declaration forms, the potential clients
disappeared.  
    Swiss banks also approached DBS on the hope they could
offload troublesome U.S. clients to a location that so far has
not been reached by the strong arms of Washington or Brussels.
    DBS said no thanks. In fact many private banks and boutique
advisors now seem to be avoiding U.S. clients.
    Will this spread to other nationalities, as governments
invest in tax spies and tax havens invest in white paint?
    Is this the end of offshore private private banking?

Private bankers chanting new mantra

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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”.

Investment tales from private bankers

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By Neil Chatterjee

Top private bankers are no different from the rest of us when it comes to looking after their money.

Some, such as Citigroup’s head of investments in Asia and ex-Lehman banker Debashish Dutta Gupta sold everything when his former employer went bust. Others held on and took the paper losses, before increasing their fixed income exposure and slowly edging back into equities this year.

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