Summit Notebook

Tax evaders on the run

October 7, 2009

  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

October 7, 2009

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

Investment tales from private bankers

October 7, 2009

By Neil Chatterjee

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

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.

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.

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.

Wealth Management: What does the future hold?

October 5, 2009

Even the rich aren’t as well-off as they were a year ago but that’s not stopping the wealth management industry from focusing on what the future of private banking will look like after the economic downturn has passed. Click below to view my latest story:

No more musical chairs in banking industry-Merrill exec

October 15, 2008

rahul.jpgAs global markets rallied over the past five years, talent in the private banking industry had become a heavily fought over commodity. Rain makers, top bankers and entire teams were poached constantly by rival organizations who offered top dollar for the move.

We’re in this mess now, so stop moaning!

October 14, 2008

rtr58um.jpgRegulation is a word bankers love to hate.

But according to Sebastian Dovey, managing partner of wealth management consultancy Scorpio Partnership, they need to spend less time moaning about it and more time working with regulators to communicate the benefits of the industry.

Audio – Kuwait Finance House sees silver lining in downturn

October 14, 2008

lim-boh-soon.jpg Lim Boh Soon, chief executive officer of Kuwait Finance House in Singapore said at the Reuters Wealth Management Summit that he sees the period of downturn in the global economy lasting 18-24 months.