Summit Notebook

Rich seek ways to sit on the hedge

October 6, 2010

Rich investors are taking more precautions than ever in their wealth, and instruments once seen as complex and exotic are becoming more commonplace in their portfolios, wealth managers said at the Reuters Private Banking Summit.

High level tourism wins some wealthy fans

October 6, 2010

While wealthy clients remain ultra-cautious about real estate, some are being tempted to snap up trophy properties that promise to throw off a healthy amount of cash.

Trusts can help women win back their fair share

October 6, 2010

Investment trusts, financial constructions often associated to clever tax structuring, can actually help women inherit their fair share in countries were they are discriminated by law, a top private banker says.

Fear factor driving gold higher

October 5, 2010

“Gold is not an investment. It doesn’t pay you interest and it doesn’t increase wealth,” complained one investment advisor recently as he perused exploding client demand for the yellow metal.

You can’t avoid the taxman, but there may find a friendlier one in the Alps

October 5, 2010

With the German government hot on the heels of untaxed wealth stashed in Swiss bank accounts, and the U.K. government taking a tougher stance on clawing back bonuses, rich folks will likely head for the hills – or the Alps to be more precise – senior private banking executives said in Geneva. 

How rich is rich?

October 5, 2010

How rich is rich? For most people, the answer is simple: ”not me.” But for private bankers keen to handle the assets of the well-heeled from Moscow to Malibu, that question is a slippery one. Sometimes a simple number won’t do, either.

Crisis-hit rich wanted cash they could count on

October 5, 2010

The credit crisis prompted a well-documented exodus of client money from risky assets into safer ones like government bonds, cash and gold.
But some rich clients of private banks would have preferred to take their money and run.
They were so rattled by the threat of financial instability to their wealth that they wanted the reassurance of having as much of it as possible in a form they could hold in their hands and count: banknotes.
Wavering confidence in the financial system led some to consider taking out their entire cash balance and holding it in banks’ vaults in physical notes, said James Fleming head of international business at British private banking blue-blood Coutts.
“That was a request on three or four occasions at the height of the crisis when everybody was concerned about the balance sheets of the banks generally, not us specifically,” Fleming said.
“We cautioned against holding cash in the vault,” he said, adding: “They didn’t do it.”

Private bankers must show restraint in Europe

October 4, 2010

Private bankers remain in demand in some key European markets, but they will have to live with lower salaries if they want to continue to be part of this business.
Top wealth managers told the Reuters Global Private Banking summit that they have stopped offering the huge packages seen in the run up to the financial crisis of 2008-2009.
“We are not offering packages that are outlandish. And I do not see the other banks doing that either,” said Samir Raslan, General Manager of Citibank (Switzerland).
Raslan said the structure of banker’s salaries had also changed. Relationship managers who form the backbone of a private bank’s workforce were getting higher fixed salaries than before, but no more huge bonuses.
“We see more rational hiring, rather than aggressive, open cheque-book hiring,” said Raslan.

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.

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.