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Entries for the 14th annual Global Private Banking Awards showed rising allocations to private assets and the emergence of boutique firms ready to steal market share from the global giants.

Several key trends are highlighted in the submissions for the Global Private Banking Awards in 2022. These include rising allocations by wealth firms to private assets and the emergence of boutique firms ready to steal market share from the global giants.

But, as our awards judges tell us, these movements are more nuanced than the headline trends suggest and come with intrinsic challenges.

Around 90% of assets allocated to private markets are currently held by institutional or ultra-high-net-worth investors, estimates João Miguel Rodrigues, principal for financial services and private capital at consultancy Oliver Wyman. Going forward, the high-net-worth segment of the market will play a more important role.

An additional 5% allocation represents a $1.5tn opportunity for wealth managers who understand that delivering private market products is increasingly viewed as a core capability for wealth managers.


“As classic fixed income, cash and equity portfolios do not deliver meaningful returns post-cost and inflation, clients need to add additional uncorrelated asset classes with higher risk-adjusted returns,” says Mr Rodrigues.

With the historic hurdles of limited liquidity, prohibitively high investment thresholds and lack of education around the asset class being progressively tackled by private banks, opportunities are fast becoming more accessible.

“For wealth managers, this is a major opportunity,” he says. “It can be a source of competitive differentiation, a protection against downward fee pressure, and a way to increase client stickiness and secure a source of recurring revenues.”

Aggressive push

“Clearly, private assets is the asset class which is being aggressively pushed by private bankers, especially at a time when all other asset classes suffer,” says Shelby du Pasquier, head of the banking and finance group at lawyers Lenz & Staehelin in Geneva.

“That said, these assets raise specific and complex issues, in particular in terms of due diligence, valuation and liquidity. Some of the promoters of these products are not necessarily equipped to deal with these issues. As a result, it is very likely that we shall see problems down the line with this asset class.”

One key question is whether the current private wealth surge into alternative assets is a timely investment. “I fear some of the latecomers to private assets are arriving just as liquidity and performance are turning quite ugly,” says Kim Cornwall, founder of Cornwall & Co Consulting, which designs training programmes for banks and financial institutions in Europe and the Middle East. “Their clients may not have a good experience, which will inevitably lead to losses and litigation.”

While there is a much greater willingness among private banks to look at all potential sources of returns in a low return environment, many clients being shepherded towards this asset by advisers are yet to realise the challenges.

Dry powder

“Rising allocations to private markets by all investor types have reduced opportunity sets, as indicated currently by the amount of dry powder or unallocated capital. For example, nearly a quarter of assets in private debt is held as dry powder,” suggests Amin Rajan, CEO of the consultancy Create-Research. “Exit costs in the event of premature withdrawals of funds are high, as each mandate is customised. Although private markets offer meaningful diversification, this disappears when most needed in down markets. Private markets’ illiquidity premium comes at a high price.”

Yet there is a sense of inevitability that banks must spread their wings into alternative assets, particularly in today’s climate of spiralling inflation and raised volatility in public markets. While this is partly in response to client demand, there is a growing understanding that the investment engine is central to the private banking business model and a key differentiator between rival institutions.

“This trend is more a reflection of client demand aligned to improvements in many financial institutions’ capacity to service these asset classes,” says independent wealth management consultant Sebastian Dovey. “There are now platforms — white labelled or home built — that many have been progressively engaging with in the past three to four years, which are beginning to reach critical mass. Crucially, private banks recognise that private markets can form a significant returns contributor in the current market environment and the investment committees of these institutions are now willing to consider this as part of the overall asset allocation modelling.”

Key catalyst

The design of technology channels to help distribute the latest strategies is a key catalyst for their expansion, agree our commentators. “Alternative investments and private market investments receive large portfolio allocations due to current market conditions that have led wealth management firms to broaden their product line-up,” says Alois Pirker, research director of the wealth management practice at the Aite-Novarica group in Boston, US. “Another reason for this change has been the increased efficiencies in processing these products resulting from platforms such as CAIS or iCapital.”

The dynamic around private equity is also boosting the emergence of boutique firms, prominent in the US market, where several smaller shops managing more than $30bn have been growing to such an extent that they are becoming serious challengers.

“There is a new breed of firms emerging in the US that had not been that visible only five years ago,” confirms Mr Pirker. “The easy-access to private equity investments in recent years has fuelled inorganic growth and creates new champions in many wealth management segments.”

This does not appear to be a temporary phenomenon, believe the trend’s propagators. “This trend will continue, especially as the giants get too big and the managers forming boutiques realise the personal rewards available are greater in being independent,” says Ray Soudah, founder of mergers and acquisitions and strategic advice consultants MilleniumAssociates.

“In the US, there is more innovation, with inorganic growth of new champions,” says Malik Sarwar, senior partner at the Global Leader Group. “The single biggest driver of success is rather simple: what is your one unique focus?”

No more business as usual

But these firms must deliver consistently in three critical areas — investment performance, client service, and fees and charges — if they are to survive and thrive. We have already seen several boutiques in both Europe and the US which have promised a brighter future, yet failed to achieve scale or were absorbed by the behemoths because they did not keep pace with these objectives. “Without a proven track record in these areas, they will struggle,” agrees Mr Rajan.

Yet there is also a real sense that the biggest private banks have dominated the market for too long, without any real innovation and that the time has come for new entrants to step up.

“Many of the innovators will thrive and become a force to be reckoned with,” believes Mr Cornwall. “The US has always been at the forefront of innovation, and I worry about some of the old-school European banks being left well behind by failing to adapt to the changing market conditions. It will not be business as usual.”

Best global private bank

Best chief investment office in private banking

Best private bank for entrepreneurs

Winner: Citi Private Bank

One of the main organisational changes at Citi came after the announcement in January 2021 that it had created a single wealth management firm, Citi Global Wealth (CGW), unifying teams from Global Consumer Banking and Citi Private Bank. Management — from group boss Jane Fraser, through to CGW head honcho Jim O’Donnell and its Europe, the Middle East and Africa leader Luigi Pigorini — like to call it a “single, integrated platform serving clients across the wealth continuum”. 

They talk about “leveraging our entire franchise” and “tapping into our broader framework”. According to Ida Liu, global head of Citi Private Bank: “Clients across all levels of wealth want the same thing — for their financial lives to be simpler and tailored to their needs.”

The real story is that, like many in the private banking competitive landscape, Citi has at last realised it is missing out on an even bigger chunk of revenues, by restricting itself to the ultra-high-net-worth space in many markets.

Yet the bank remains conscious of its image and insists exclusivity is not being totally ditched. In the UK, Citi proposes to focus its personal banking and wealth management business on a smaller number of “select” clients, while giving these high-net-worth individuals access to the broader range of bespoke products and services previously only available to those at the top of the tree.

“Citi Private Bank has established expertise in servicing clients with complex wealth management needs, particularly in the ultra-high-net-worth bracket. In the UK, we would like to share that expertise with clients who have net worth in the £10m to £25m range, where we are confident we could add value,” says Mr Pigorini.

This “sharing” expertise across a broader base is not to be sniffed at, as the 18-strong CGW chief investment office under David Bailin in New York has a track record of reacting quickly to market trends.

Allocations to real estate, for instance, were recommended during “peak pessimism” around this sector at the height of the 2020 lockdown, leading to significant gains once normality returned. Similarly in 2022, a thematic allocation to global pharmaceuticals outperformed global equities by 13%, says the bank.

Mr Bailin’s team works closely with both family offices and entrepreneurs, enjoying around 1600 relationships with the wealthiest families, typified by significant, concentrated equity positions, plus large portfolios embracing private equity, venture capital and real estate assets.

“When events such as the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the rapidly changing relationship between the US and China, and major Fed policy shifts occur, our advice goes well beyond how to manage risk,” says Mr Bailin, chief investment officer and head of CGW Investments. “We aim to build portfolios that anticipate where investment opportunities may arise as unexpected events unfold.” 

Best private bank in Europe

Best private bank in Switzerland

Winner: Pictet

Pictet has been busy reinforcing its European footprint across several target markets. In 2020, the group opened a bank in Monaco, a hotly contested and vibrant market. Over the past 18 months, Pictet has also welcomed new leaders in France, the UK and Iberia, namely Jean-Baptiste Douin, Robert Suss and Pedro Gonzalez Grau, respectively.

While there has previously been much talk within the group of downgrading the London office and investing more in EU country Luxembourg as the new post-Brexit hub, the bank now denies that this is part of the European strategy. Luxembourg now boasts 500 Pictet staff, with investment increasing in Pictet Technologies.

“Our London operations have been strengthened after Brexit, with several new bankers joining and we look forward to adding more,” says Sven Holstenson, head of Europe for Pictet Wealth Management. “Brexit, in this sense, has not changed the strategic place held by the UK for the Pictet Group.”

For the bank, Europe and Asia are both seen as the key growth regions in wealth management. “In Europe, we are not prioritising specific markets, but rather investing across the board to ensure a common culture and approach. We prefer to focus on the quality of our investment strategies and services to our clients, instead of a market in particular,” says Mr Holstenson. 

Asia follows a similar philosophy, with teams based in Hong Kong and Singapore. Both regions posted a record year in 2021 across all key metrics, despite the ongoing unprecedented disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic, says the bank. Pictet also stresses the importance of “reciprocity” between the asset management and wealth management divisions, to spur the growth of both. 

Best private bank in Central and Eastern Europe

Best private bank in Austria

Best private bank in Slovakia

Winner: Erste Private Banking

In each country in central and eastern Europe in which Erste Group operates in, the bank offers a highly personalised private banking advisory service, says Maximilian Clary und Aldringen, head of private banking and wealth management, Erste Bank Oesterreich.

“While every local private banking unit has specific local solutions, which consider the local tax, currency and regulatory environment, our clear common focus is discretionary portfolio management. Our solution can be highly individualised according to the needs of each customer, covering all relevant asset classes and product categories, as well as environmental, social and governance criteria,” he says. 

The benefits of employing a highly individual approach can be a differentiator to the services offered to lower wealth segments. “It is the only reason why customers are willing to pay for our services,” says Mr Clary und Aldringen.

In Slovakia, Jana Holiková, the team leader entrusted with the management of Erste Private Banking operations in the country, says her team has worked hard to engage with the younger generation of investors. She says they are receiving a transfer of assets from a generation of entrepreneurs who started businesses after the revolution in the early 1990s and who are now passing on their businesses to their inheritors. 

“As they were mostly the first generation to start the business, there is a lack of knowledge of when and how to include family members in it. We are trying to be the partner who can advise and guide them through the lifecycle of their company and to be a partner for the next generation as well,” says Ms Holiková. 

Best private bank in the Middle East

Winner: Julius Baer

The Middle East, according to senior bankers at Julius Baer, represents an important growth market and is a key pillar of the Zürich-based bank’s long-term strategy. 

The bank opened its office in Dubai 18 years ago and became the first organisation to be licensed in the Dubai International Financial Centre. 

“Over the past 20 years, the Middle East has become a global hub, a link between East and West, a gateway for Asian companies to Africa, a home for the expats and entrepreneurs who have found success and prosperity,” says Yves Robert-Charrue, head of Switzerland and Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Julius Baer.

“The region has made considerable economic progress and has also positioned itself very well globally coming out of the pandemic, with strong business and economic fundamentals and social infrastructure for wealthy investors.”

Dubai is favoured by the bank as a hub for cross-border business and Qatar will also be earmarked for similar growth.

This is not to distract, however, from Julius Baer’s home market of Switzerland, where it set out a new strategy in 2020 with a strong focus on expanding segment-specific solutions, adding a real estate offering in 2021.

The bank has made recruitment a particular priority, focusing on senior talent but also tapping into the next generation of aspiring relationship managers. “Through dedicated training programmes, we are driving the development of our internal talent pool, which will become increasingly important,” says Mr Robert-Charrue. “Our investment into upskilling will continue through our well-established, in-house Julius Baer Academy. And we are constantly looking at how to meet tomorrow’s needs with the creation of new role profiles and career pathways, such as junior relationship managers or account managers.” 

Best private bank in Asia

Best private bank for alternatives

Winner: UBS

UBS bosses emphasise that much of the bank’s progress has been achieved by developing products for institutional as well as private clients, spurring innovation in alternative assets. The bank’s research shows investors, particularly those from the family office space, are increasingly snapping up opportunities in private equity, private debt and real estate: 42% plan to increase direct private equity allocations, while 38% intend to raise investments in private equity funds and funds of funds. The bank claims these higher weightings are paying off in performance figures.

Although the bank prefers to invest client monies in funds, it is also scaling up its co-investments in private equity. Towards the end of 2022, UBS Global Wealth Management (GWM) will be offering larger clients “the opportunity to co-invest alongside some of our largest and most established global partners in selective opportunities”.

To douse any unease about a repeat of the collapse of illiquid alternatives at the time of the 2008 global financial crisis, UBS is insisting the “market today is very different compared to 15 years ago”, citing improved manager selection and due diligence procedures by “teams of dedicated experts” under the auspices of its chief investment office. These days, the bank says it works with large, long-term partners, enjoying multi-cycle track records.

UBS is hoping for a seamless top management transition, with Naureen Hassan replacing long-standing company man Tom Naratil, taking the title ‘president of the Americas’, driving regional strategic growth and digital initiatives. Iqbal Khan becomes sole president of UBS GWM. 

While the fortunes of UBS have been well ahead those of floundering rival Credit Suisse, it has not been plain sailing for Mr Khan and colleagues. UBS says it remains committed to “build-out of our digital wealth management offering”, yet has terminated the $1.4bn acquisition of robo-adviser Wealthfront, by mutual agreement between the two partners.

Mr Khan has stayed tight-lipped about reasons for the pull-out, stressing growth in this segment will be “organically” led. It is believed this will be a hybrid service, based on a digital-first offering, yet with more input from the chief investment office and the broader wealth management offering. 

Best private bank in Latin America

Best private bank in Brazil

Best private bank in Colombia

Winner: BTG Pactual

When it comes to liquid markets, BTG Pactual Wealth Management says its portfolio management service is based on an asset diversification approach balancing strategic allocation with well-defined tactical deviations, reflecting opportunist market views. It says the building blocks of tactical deviations are economic outlook, definition of expected returns for the universe of investable asset classes and portfolio optimisation. 

BTG holds monthly investment committees which result in a vector of medium-term expected returns comprising for asset classes and sub-classes, the backbone of the Black-Litterman portfolio optimisation exercise that underpins its asset allocation process. Investment decisions are communicated to clients by monthly letters and ad-hoc communiques, as well as a new monthly podcast, complemented by one-to-one calls. 

A key area of BTG’s approach is its alternatives programme, which invests in a combination of public and private strategies based on an assessment of managers’ ability to deal with uncertainty; nurture and leverage their network capacity to be a mentor/problem-solver; and a strong track record in identifying trends and accessing high-calibre deals. 

The main alternative strategies of the programme are in hedge funds. BTG says it continues to deploy further capital to the most recognised managers, namely Brevan Howard, TCI, Sequoia Capital, Coatue, Point72 and Perceptive Advisors. Regarding private strategies, it said it aimed to create alpha without bearing incremental risk by accessing private markets. 

Last year, BTG hosted its first financial education programme designed specifically for women, reflecting the fact that 30.2% of clients were women in 2021, up from 29.9% the previous year.

BTG says its vision of sustainability reflects a long-term ambition and commitment to responsible and sustainable development. In 2020, a new division was created, focused on sustainable and impact investing, consolidating BTG as a hub to connect global investors to opportunities in Latin America related to sustainable finance, environmental, social and governance, and impact investing funds, as well as carbon markets. 

Best private bank in Andorra

Winner: Crèdit Andorrà

The key challenge of Crèdit Andorrà’s 2021–23 strategic plan has been strengthening the bank’s leadership in the Andorran market and consolidating its international presence, particularly in Luxembourg, Spain and the US, says Xavier Cornella, CEO of Crèdit Andorrà Financial Group. 

Strategic alliances enabled Crèdit Andorrà to enhance the service offered to customers. “These operations give us a greater competitive edge to impact positively on the value proposition — focusing on specialisation and innovation — in terms of product offerings, technology and the digital transformation,” he says.

The international unification of the bank’s brand is another pillar “underpinning our actions, helping strengthen our leadership, generate group synergies and boost the sense of belonging within our team, our main asset”, adds Mr Cornella.

The main benefits of the strategic plan have been corporate operations completed throughout 2021 and 2022, organic growth achieved through careful and responsible management, and partnerships enabling the bank to add value. “These have all made the group stronger, more resilient and competitive,” he says.

“They have also made it possible to strengthen our current business and face the challenges we have taken on with greater guarantees for our shareholders, customers, employees and Andorra as a whole. Our goal is to grow sustainably while ensuring optimal future development,” says Mr Cornella.

“Indeed, our digitalisation initiatives have allowed us to strengthen relationships with our customers through a more specialised and sustainable value proposition and by striving for excellent user experience, with complementary and synchronised digital and remote service channels,” he explains.

In the area of sustainability, Crèdit Andorrà became a signatory to the UNEP Finance Initiative Principles for Responsible Banking, the first Andorran bank to do so. 

It also acquired Vall Blanc and GBS Finanzas Investcapital in 2022, which enabled the bank to bolster its main business figures — profitability and assets under management, says Mr Cornella. 

Best private bank in Australia

Winner: NAB Private Wealth

Over the course of 2020 and 2021, National Australia Bank (NAB) merged three of its wholly owned businesses, including JBWere, NAB Private and nabtrade, to create a fully integrated wealth and advice offering under the new brand of NAB Private Wealth. This strategic shake-up has, according to NAB Private Wealth, provided greater latitude to serve customers in a holistic manner, including the provision of a full wealth offering through the use of in-house experts. 

Even though this new approach has delivered a string of benefits, the transformation process itself was not problem-free. “The greatest challenge has been to transform and perform at the same time. During a period where we were transforming our business model — integrating our three wholly owned businesses into one — we were also performing at the top of our game,” says Ivano Simonutti, executive, NAB Private Wealth.

Mr Simonutti notes that client support was key to overcoming some of the associated challenges of the internal merger. “[We have a] client base that appreciates our strategy centred on supporting their private wealth journey, and are choosing to utilise our lending, deposit and investment facilities at unprecedented rates,” he says.

Meanwhile, NAB Private Wealth has also pursued inorganic growth opportunities. In 2021, the acquisition of Citibank’s Australian wealth management business was announced, in a sign of NAB Private Wealth’s longer-term growth ambitions. Following the completion of regulatory approvals, the transaction was finalised on June 1, 2022. 

Beyond this, NAB Private Wealth has also been bolstering the number of bankers within its ranks, in line with its broader development strategy and to bolster its capacity to provide client advice. 

Best private bank in Bahrain

Best private bank in Egypt

Winner: Ahli United Bank

The growth in high-net-worth individuals and family wealth across the Middle East has led to an increased need for sophisticated wealth management capabilities, with Ahli United Bank (AUB) well positioned to cater to this growing demand, based on its local reach and global expertise. Its wealth management operations leverage AUB’s strong regional presence, with 158 branches across Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt, Oman, Iraq, Libya, the UAE and the UK.

The bank has pushed through major initiatives over the past two years, to enhance the experience of its clients and the level of service that relationship managers (RMs) provide. One major initiative was the creation of a new foundation through the launch of its Enterprise RM workbench, enabling digitally charted end-to-end journeys to be undertaken, with a focus on ‘A-Z’ automation.

“To provide clients with greater access and control of their investments, we have also initiated a major project to launch an online investment portal which will serve as the basis for clients to have easy access to comprehensive portfolio reporting, analytics and to be able to digitally subscribe to investment products,” says Richard Jablonowski, group head of private banking and wealth management at AUB.

The bank also recently entered into agreements with both Principal Global, which manages close to $1tn, and Forbes Family Trust to provide research, market outlook and also advice on the construction of risk-based asset allocation models. 

“We believe that partnering with regional and global asset managers that have the expertise and experience in their areas of competence is an important way in which we can provide solutions that our clients may not otherwise have access to and that we do not have the experience ourselves of being able to provide,” says Mr Jablonowski. 

Best private bank in Belgium

Winner: BNP Paribas Fortis Private Banking & Wealth Management

BNP Paribas Fortis strives to offer an “inclusive, family and cross-generational approach” to managing client assets over the long term. The bank’s estate planners, supported by digital tools, provide “high-quality advice” to help clients transfer their assets in the best possible way, says Stéphane Vermeire, BNP Paribas Fortis Private Banking & Wealth Management general manager.

Cornerstone of the bank’s wealth planning approach is PaxFamilia, the digital platform developed by GuiSquare, a start-up in which BNP Paribas Fortis has a stake. The tool, which was enriched last year with an estate-planning module, gives an overview of the client’s personal situation, global assets, objectives and projects, allowing bankers to provide bespoke advice. It is also able to run simulations on the future evolution of client assets. 

Over its 200 years of life, the Belgian bank has supported both small and large enterprises in their growth trajectory, but also during periods of crisis or uncertainty, says Mr Vermeire. The plan for 2023 is “to go one step further” and focus the bank’s efforts on this client segment by providing an “integrated, one-single relationship manager-model” to make in-house expertise fully available to entrepreneurial clients to meet their private and professional needs. 

First among Belgian banks, last year BNP Paribas Fortis launched a European long-term investment fund, an infrastructure strategy managed by BlackRock, and the plan is to further increase client access to private equity. 

The bank has “a strong conviction on socially responsible and future-oriented management” and enjoys around 32% market share in sustainable investing in Belgium, according to consultancy association Forum Ethibel.

The way private banks deal with new environment, social and governance regulation will have a huge impact on the wealth management sector, says Mr Vermeire. “It is an immense challenge to comply with, yet it is also an opportunity for our bank to reaffirm our frontrunner position in sustainable and impact investing.” 

Best private bank in Bermuda

Best private bank in the Cayman Islands

Winner: The Bank of NT Butterfield & Son Limited

Butterfield was established in 1858 as Bermuda’s first bank. Since then, it has grown to provide a range of bespoke financial services, as well as community banking offerings, from eight top-tier international financial centres. From a private banking perspective, Butterfield distinguishes itself through a high-touch approach that nurtures frequent one-to-one interactions between the relationship manager and client. It currently provides its private banking services in Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and Guernsey. 

In Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, Butterfield offers a full range of wealth management services that can be specifically tailored to a client’s needs. Private bankers act as the sole contact point for customers, who are granted access to both local and international services, coupled with a multi-jurisdiction trust network. According to Butterfield, this approach empowers its bankers to be more thorough and dynamic in terms of their approach to developing, and delivering, financial solutions. 

Beyond its core private banking proposition, Butterfield also offers a suite of complementary offerings that include asset management, and trust and fiduciary services. From an asset management standpoint, clients can benefit from Butterfield’s discretionary portfolio management. In this respect, private bankers work jointly with internal asset managers to carve out an investment portfolio that aligns with a customer’s risk preferences, time horizon and fundamental investment objectives. 

When it comes to trust and fiduciary services, many of Butterfield’s private banking customers employ trust structures within the scope of their wider financial objectives and as part of their succession plans. Private bankers at Butterfield thus work with both in-house trust experts, as well as clients’ non-bank legal teams, to generate tailored trust solutions. 

Meanwhile, Butterfield continues to invest in its digital capabilities. In recent times, this has included the rollout of DocuSign technology to enable the bank to send, sign and manage agreements anywhere in the world. 

Best private bank in Bulgaria

Best private bank in Croatia 

Winner: UniCredit CEE Private Banking, UniCredit Bulbank Bulgaria/ Zagrebačka banka

Bulgaria and Croatia are two of the eight countries in central and eastern Europe (CEE) where UniCredit CEE Private Banking has a local footprint.

The local banks leverage on the strong expertise of the group investment strategy and fund selection team. Most client assets are invested with global asset managers, including Amundi, BlackRock, Fidelity and JPMorgan, bringing global solutions to local markets.

In Bulgaria, UniCredit Bulbank has aimed to enhance client service by focusing on client needs by cluster, providing bespoke financial solutions and services, and introducing new partners in asset management, says Borislav Genov, head of retail banking and member of the management board, UniCredit Bulbank (Bulgaria).

While still lagging western Europe, sustainable investing is developing and investment opportunities have increased in the country, leading the bank to introduce sustainable investing ratings for part of its investment products, in view of increased client interest and inflows. “As the bank with the biggest green loans portfolio in the country, at UniCredit Bulbank we follow two principles: first, lead by example, via implementing our own environmental, social and governance strategy as part of the business strategy and, second, develop the tools and products to enhance the transition of our clients,” he says.

Zagrebačka banka, the largest bank in Croatia, has a long history, having operated in the country for 105 years. As part of UniCredit, it is in the process of further simplifying its business by streamlining processes and harmonising its service model, while continuing to invest in digitalisation. The bank is committed to creating new products and services to meet client needs, while also improving client education, to improve their knowledge of financial solutions and understanding of market opportunities. 

“Zagrebačka banka has a strong brand that ensures high-quality service, security and support for its clients,” says Helena Ćorić, Zagrebačka banka’s head of private banking, praising employees who put “great effort in bringing value to our clients every day”.

Best private bank in Canada

Winner: RBC Wealth Management

As the largest wealth and asset manager in Canada, backed by the country’s biggest bank, RBC Wealth Management has the scale and resources to bring a full suite of solutions to clients, says Jennifer Publicover, senior vice-president, wealth management products and strategy at RBC Wealth Management.

This scale means RBC Wealth Management is able to continue investing in key distribution, product and digital capabilities, she says. “This in turn leads to better client outcomes and better adviser recruitment and retention, which then drives higher adviser productivity and higher market share,” adds Ms Publicover.

Better outcomes have also been achieved by broadening execution in both the RBC Premier Banking and RBC Private Insurance offerings across Canada, she claims. In RBC Premier Banking, gains have come from delivering a coordinated client experience where the client feels they are dealing with one organisation rather than multiple organisations, regardless of the different platforms or legal entities they may actually be engaged with. “It means ensuring all wealth management clients have a personalised banking approach and it means delivering more value to all of them,” she says. 

RBC Wealth Management has also benefited from a strategic alliance with BlackRock Canada which Ms Publicover says has delivered greater access to investment advisers and an ability to offer a full range of index-based products at scale. 

Integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations into the investment selection process has also reaped rewards, she says. “ESG integration is a core pillar of our approach to responsible investment, and every investment team evaluates material ESG factors as a part of its investment decision-making processes.” 

The bank believes that issuers which manage their material ESG risks and opportunities effectively are more likely to outperform on a risk-adjusted basis over the long term, adds Ms Publicover. 

Best private bank in Chile

Winner: LarrainVial

Gonzalo Córdova, partner at LarrainVial and CEO of wealth management at the Chilean bank, says innovations undertaken in technology have been key to delivering efficiencies.

“Technological investment has allowed us to develop portfolio solution systems and client proposals designed according to their segmentation in a standardised format. Innovation has led us to hire younger bankers and to be more cost efficient. All this leads us to be more effective and to be able to deliver a superior advisory service to our clients,” he claims.

Technology has also played a vital role in helping finesse communication with clients, says Mr Córdova, especially in allowing the bank to meet their needs. “Through our data analytics we have been able to communicate pertinent information and [direct] clients to our different seminars and activities that we consider of interest to them,” he says.

Another area that has augmented LarrainVial’s approach has been the development of the bank’s offering to family offices. “No longer focusing only on financial advice, the offer extends to comprehensive advice, through external experts where necessary, in other areas such as philanthropy, innovation, venture capital and tax advice,” says Mr Córdova.

Additionally, education has been crucial to improving the bank’s business model. “Education has been central to the training provided in the induction of wealth managers. We have become a banker training factory. Upon arrival, new hires are trained for three months in the area of LV Estrategia, an area that pulls together the profiling and portfolios recommended to clients,” says Mr Córdova.

“All our financial knowledge is also shared with clients. Today we have an academy with online courses where we educate our clients. We also offer specialised ad hoc courses for more sophisticated clients,” he adds. 

Best private bank in China

Best performing private bank in Asia

Winner: China Merchants Bank

China’s private banking market has endured several challenges in recent times, including a shifting regulatory landscape and the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Even so, China Merchants Bank (CMB) was able to grow its assets under management, operating income and client base at a steady clip in 2021. This was accompanied by efforts to augment its digital product and service offerings, with a focus on the development of a private banking interface on the CMB mobile application. 

“CMB utilises industry-leading fintech capabilities to support the digital transformation of private banking,” says Wang Yanrong, director of the private banking department of CMB. “Private banking works with the CMB technology department as an integrated team. We built an exclusive interface for high-end customers on CMB App, which has 100 million users. After its launch in 2021, the click volume of the app of private banking customers soon doubled.”

Nevertheless, CMB’s digital progress has not been without its problems. In particular, balancing digital innovation with regulatory requirements in China is, according to Ms Wang, among the most salient hurdles the institution has faced. 

“The challenge is to deliver an excellent customer experience while ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements,” she explains. “Some [of our] business must be handled offline due to regulatory requirements [in China]. For the rest, we make online services as efficient as possible.”

In 2021, CMB introduced a new integrated service system tailored to the specific needs of its clients. This includes a focus on the individual, the family, enterprises, and society as discrete segments, in contrast to purely offering retail services to high-net-worth customers, an approach CMB had originally pursued. 

Best private bank in Czech Republic

Winner: ČSOB Private Banking

The most resonant topics among the client base of Prague-based ČSOB are high inflation and elevated energy prices, which cause disruption to their businesses and trading operations. 

In order to alleviate these concerns, ČSOB looks to its ultimate owner, Belgian bank KBC, for a product provision strategy, now shaped by sustainability and responsible investment values and priorities.

This dedication to ESG values can, however, cause difficulties in the bank’s home market, says Pavel Tichy, director of the wealth office at ČSOB Private Banking. “Even big names in the investment universe are not able to cope with our strict policies around responsible investing,” says Mr Tichy. “This often means we can end up with a less attractive third-party fund offer.”

ČSOB also sees more demand for private equity strategies and infrastructure loans. 

“Recently, we see [a trend towards]  significantly greater representation of alternative investments alongside classic, but still functional instruments such as stocks, bonds and fixed income,” he says. 

“We are aware that this is not just a fashion trend and therefore alternative investments will play an increasingly important role for our clients, whether in real estate or private equity or venture capital funds.”

While ČSOB has been working with KBC to create bespoke solutions in this sphere, the challenge, which Mr Tichy hopes to overcome, has been to hedge investments against Czech currency risk for local investors. 

“We expect more and more demand around these products for years to come and we aim to have 15 to 20% of our assets under distribution exposed to alternative investments,” he says. 

Best private bank in Denmark

Winner: Nykredit Private Banking

Lotte Månsson, director of Nykredit Private Banking Elite, says that as the growth of the private banking client segment at the Danish bank continues to broaden her team has had to adapt its value proposition.

Ms Månsson believes a clear benefit of targeting new segments is the fact that it drives the private bank to see its business from fresh perspectives, leading to new ideas and, thus, products and offerings. 

Training advisers to a new normal has certainly helped the offering. “We have many private bankers with a high level of professional knowledge and financial skills and know-how. Skills not equally nurtured in our sector are emotional skills, which is why our training has focused on improving advisers’ emotional skillset and becoming more self-aware and then aware of how to read different types of people as we see a more differentiated client segment today,” she says.

“Our employee satisfaction score has been increasing continuously over the past couple of years, as has our customer net promoter score. Moreover, our churn rate is at its lowest point in our 15 years in business,” says Ms Månsson.

Another aspect of improving Nykredit’s private banking offer has been to get to know clients’ needs in depth through closer contact, she explains. “Through a continuous dialogue with clients, we have been moving even closer to them and have strengthened our relationship.” 

The bank sees a big challenges in attracting the young generation. “Their behaviour and needs differentiate fundamentally from the generation we are serving now. The Gen Z and millennials think digitally in other ways than we do. If we are able meet their demands — and exceed them — I believe we are looking at a big growth opportunity in the future,” adds Ms Månsson. 

Best private bank in France

Winner: BNP Paribas Banque Privée France

Supporting entrepreneurs and their families has been key to the ambitious growth plans of BNP Paribas Wealth Management across Europe, with a dedicated team of 300 employees built specifically to service these clients.

This approach involves bringing together investment strategies from the corporate and investment bank, the asset management division and the bank’s real estate arm to help clients with what CEO Vincent Lecomte calls “a comprehensive approach, at the centre of all the group’s expertise”.

Many of these clients are increasingly investing in private equity and real estate strategies, which the bank believes provide attractive investment opportunities in today’s market.

As the bank accelerates its “digital transformation”, it is promoting a new digital solution dedicated to private equity, real estate and infrastructure, called the Private Assets Portal.

“This platform offers our clients real-time access to all information regarding their investments in private asset funds, to which they subscribed via electronic signature,” says Anne Pointet, deputy CEO at BNP Paribas Wealth Management. 

Clients automatically receive notifications as soon as new information about one of their investments is published on the portal. According to Ms Pointet, millennial clients in particular are becoming more and more interested in private assets with an environmental, social and governance (ESG) tilt. They are expressing preferences for impact thematic funds around energy transition, social inclusion or protection of biodiversity.

The bank is particularly keen to provide tailor-made advice to each client relating to their journey around ESG and impact investments. According to Ms Pointet, this includes strategy definition, analysis of chosen causes, benchmarking, legal and fiscal environment, analysis of different philanthropic vehicles and structuring, methodologies on beneficiary selection and impact evaluation. 

Best private bank in Germany

Winner: Berenberg

Founded by the Flemish Berenberg family in 1590, originally involved in the cloth trade and the import/export business, Berenberg is one of the world’s oldest banks and today has a strong focus on entrepreneurs.

The bank prides itself on offering clients the capability set of the whole firm, including wealth and asset management, along with investment and corporate banking. Through a platform of internal and external specialists, the German bank aims to create a network of entrepreneurs with similar mindsets and needs, while a dedicated team focuses on start-ups and young entrepreneurs. 

To meet the specific needs of family offices, in 2020 Berenberg set up a new business division offering a range of services, including how to establish a family office structure, financing, asset management solutions and direct investments.

In the current challenging market environment, Berenberg’s active management, long-term and diversified approach has paid off. Its multi-asset strategies have delivered positive returns, also thanks to careful selection of bonds, including short duration and niche themes, and alternative investments, including commodities and tail hedge certificates, which have helped to generate alpha. 

In addition, Berenberg has expanded its wealth management services to include private equity (PE) and private debt. Thanks to the partnership with fintech PE investing platform Moonfare, Berenberg’s advisers can add PE funds to portfolio recommendations, taking into account the client’s investment goals and risk profile. 

Clients can further diversify their portfolios through real estate and farmland, while the private bank leverages the corporate bank’s know-how in the infrastructure and energy sector to offer customers “innovative” investments in wind, solar and infrastructure projects.

At Berenberg wealth and asset management, environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors are considered “key decision-making criteria”. “Taking ESG into account supports our portfolio management in the holistic assessment of risk and return,” says a bank spokesperson. 

Best private bank in Greece

Winner: Alpha Private Bank, Private Banking Services by Alpha Bank

In its private banking offer, Alpha Bank’s priority is to establish a partnership with clients based on trust, while remaining committed to excellence in providing high-quality services, says Andreas K Katsogiannos, manager of the private banking division of Alpha Bank.

This can be achieved by utilising comprehensive access to the broad spectrum of Alpha Bank’s resources and capabilities enhanced by innovation and technology, he says. “We strive to create a personalised client experience by driving systematic client activation and proactive engagement enriched by a digitally-enabled approach which helps to grow our franchise and capture additional market share,” says Mr Katsogiannos. 

The implementation of a coordinated plan incorporating swift adjustments and accelerating the use of remote services and digital channels, enabled Alpha Bank to reinvent engagement with clients and, thus, enhance the client experience. 

“In this context, we are already in the process of digitally transforming our business model, redesigning our offering, re-engineering systems and efficiently streamlining processes, to deliver a new, simplified, more effective operating model while being fully compliant with the complex regulatory framework. Once implemented, we shall be able to provide enhanced customer experience and engagement, upgraded frontline experience and operational efficiency,” says Mr Katsogiannos.

Incorporating digital technologies has delivered multiple benefits for its private banking proposition. These include front-line digital tools enhanced with functionalities that ensure compliance with regulations, internal controls that allow for risk monitoring of portfolios, as well as mechanisms that make process completion speedy and paperless. It also includes digital collaboration tools that provide automatic and paperless updates to clients. 

“The initiatives enable faster and more efficient service, thus, freeing up time and effort for the private banker to prioritise client experience and retention, as well as to focus on high-value activities such as advice, sales and attracting new clients that lead to increasing assets under management,” adds Mr Katsogiannos. 

Best private bank in Hungary

Winner: OTP Private Banking

A market leader in Hungary, Bulgaria and Montenegro, with a significant footprint in many other countries in the region, OTP Private Banking has continued to expand its operations, with its private banking services now available in Moldova, Albania and Slovenia.

“OTP Private Banking has been able to grow, not just in Hungary, but in all the countries where we have subsidiaries. New private banking offices have opened or moved to more prestigious locations; new services and products were introduced; and meanwhile, our client base has been steadily growing,” says Attila Bánfi, managing director of OTP Global Markets.

Today, Global Markets has nearly 42,000 private banking clients across 11 countries. In Hungary, the bank has 24,500 private banking clients and a market share of around 35% of managed assets.

OTP Bank was the first bank in Hungary to introduce a private banking service model exclusively using digital channels, without any direct personal connection, with the new model providing a centralised virtual private banking hub based on remote elements, hybrid asset management solutions and aspects like video banking. 

“Personal contact is still one of the main principles for our work; however, in line with the global digital transformation, a clientele has arisen who demand the latest technical solutions, and the younger generation is increasingly turning towards digital tools in wealth management,” says Mr Bánfi. In just two years the platform has grown to more than 1300 customers utilising the service. 

In 2021, OTP Bank also integrated its investment services and private banking services at a group level. “The period of the pandemic has naturally had an impact on our business processes,” says Mr Bánfi. “At the same time, on the organisational side, this was a period of growth and service development for OTP Private Banking.” 

Best private bank in Hong Kong

Best private bank in the UK

Best private bank in Asia for philanthropy services

Winner: HSBC Global Private Banking

It has long been the aim of HSBC to bring its specialist investment expertise, global network and deep local insights to its Hong Kong client base, including the territory’s community of colourful tycoons and the broader cohort of wealthy individuals, pursuing family and business interests.

Now the bank aims to build on this strength to establish a much deeper footprint across the region. “Similar to Hong Kong, we are also leveraging on the relationships built over the years in each of the key markets in Asia, including mainland China, Taiwan and the Asean markets,” says Siew Meng Tan, regional head of global private banking, Asia-Pacific, HSBC.

She reports a growing demand for philanthropic advisory services across the region, with the nature of this need changing fast. 

“Philanthropists are focused on driving long-lasting change in their communities and many have extended the way they create positive impact to include aligning their investments with their values,” says Ms Tan. “This could come in the form of investing in environmental, social and governance-screened funds to generate returns for donation; issuing their sustainability-linked bonds for their family business; or delving into impact investments.”

While acknowledging the difficulty of luring high-quality staff to Hong Kong, with political challenges leading many to leaving for southern rival centre Singapore, the bank insists it is not struggling to retain talent. HSBC has operations in both jurisdictions.

“Hong Kong and Singapore will continue to develop as leading international wealth hubs with distinct strengths,” says Ms Tan. “Asia is the place to be for anyone with ambitions to build a career in private banking.”

That said, a major priority for the bank remains the UK, which during Covid-19 saw both consolidation between established players and new entrants to the industry. In order to grow the private banking business there, HSBC has worked on improving the relationship with HSBC’s commercial bank, allowing a greater range of products to be distributed to private clients.

Best private bank in Italy

Winner: Mediobanca Private Banking

With a core area of expertise in private markets, Mediobanca Private Banking leverages synergies with the Mediobanca Group’s corporate and investment banking division to serve Italy’s large business families. It positions itself as a “connection point” between private capital and investment opportunities in the real economy, either directly through club deals or indirectly through funds that invest in the sector. 

Through its equity club deal (TEC), the bank, which aims at becoming the “long-term partner of Italy’s top 500 business families”, completed several investments. These include Jakala, La Bottega, Philogen, Lincotek, CY4 Gate, Has and ART. In the real estate space, it offered co-investment opportunities in historical properties in Milan such as Santa Margherita 12, Turati 12, Palazzo delle Poste and Montebello 18.

In partnership with BlackRock, it launched an alternative fund allowing its ultra-high-net-worth clients to co-invest directly in unlisted, high-potential companies in the US, alongside private equity funds. “The project with BlackRock shows it is possible to replicate the success of the TEC initiative globally and create a customised private markets programme,” says Mediobanca Private Banking head, Angelo Viganò.

In partnership with Russell Investments, the bank offers clients access to funds of funds and a venture capital strategy. 

Rising inflation and market volatility have increased appetite for these uncorrelated investments, with additional benefits being the alignment of interests between managers and investors, the long-term time perspective, and attractive returns.

Despite overstretched valuations, markets in late cycle territory and high risk of recession, client investments in private assets, and especially private equity, will continue to grow in Italy, predicts Mr Viganò. “Data show that private equity has provided investors with the highest risk-adjusted returns over the past three decades, having generated significantly higher returns with lower volatility compared to public markets, even during periods of crisis such as in 2008.” 

Investors already have access to low-cost and highly diversified portfolios in public markets. “Private markets may be the only missing piece to enable investors to access the ‘free lunch’ of portfolio diversification,” he adds. 

Best private bank in India

Winner: Kotak Private Banking

Kotak Mahindra Bank’s private banking division, Kotak Private Banking, is one of the oldest and most well-established private banking institutions in India. It provides a full spectrum of wealth management services, including discretionary and non-discretionary investment advisory across various asset classes, as well as social impact investing and end-to-end banking solutions, among other offerings, to its diversified client base. 

Kotak Private Banking has identified digital innovation and technology as a key pillar of its future growth. To this end, it has embarked on a digital transformation journey with the objective of improving the customer experience and improving operational efficiency. “The digital transformation journey for Kotak Private started as a tactical solution to cater to Covid-19 challenges. However, since then it has become a strategic part of Kotak Private’s proposition,” says Oisharya Das, CEO of Kotak Private Banking. 

Moreover, Kotak Private Banking has been adapting its suite of product and service offerings to meet the preferences of a new generation of entrepreneurial and wealthy clients that prefer a ‘do-it-yourself’ approach to their finances. “This required us to build new digital platforms catering to both sets of clients, as well as resetting the culture internally to propose solutions based on their preferences. Changing our culture required us to make life digital for our employees as well. For this we made automation the forefront of our business strategy and digitised multiple workflows, business reporting and tracking to improve efficiencies of the teams,” says Ms Das.

When it comes to succession planning, clients benefit from the expertise of a discrete subsidiary of Kotak Mahindra Bank, Kotak Mahindra Trusteeship Services. Client offerings include the creation and execution of holistic succession plans, the provision of an asset register and online will-writing services, among other services. 

Best private bank in Korea

Winner: Hana Bank

In an increasingly competitive space, Hana Bank has differentiated itself by focusing on a younger generation of private banking clientele. 

In the post-pandemic period, the bank has pushed into more innovative and competitive services, expanding its face-to-face offerings into areas like domestic tour services and matchmaking programmes for second-generation wealthy individuals. The bank has also expanded into the integrated art banking services, through offerings like investment products, loans secured against artworks and the establishment of the Hana Art Club community, and has also expanded its innovative digital experiences by combining finance with gaming. Much of this is targeted towards the younger generations of wealthy individuals.

“The younger generation engaged in IT industries, such as start-up founders, have increased and emerged as new high-net-worth individuals in recent years,” says Yoonshik Cho, head of the wealth management division at Hana Bank. “Hana Bank has regarded them as potential VIP clients in the near future and focused on customised products and differentiated marketing for capturing them proactively,” he adds.

The bank now operates two branches of its private members clubs, Club1, in Gangnam and Gangbuk, which act as a private community space for wealthy young people. It plans to open a third Club1 in the Seocho area of Gangnam later this year. 

Meanwhile, it has also made a strategic alliance with BuildBlock, a US real estate investment platform covering everything from brokerage to investments, in order to meet its clients’ desires for investments in US real estate. It has also begun working with NGeneBio, which has developed next-generation genomics sequencing for VIP customised healthcare services and information. 

Best private bank in Luxembourg

Best private bank in Europe for succession planning

Winner: Société Générale Private Banking

Several years after pulling out of key Asian growth markets, Société Générale Private Banking is leveraging its expertise in banks based in Luxembourg, Monaco and Switzerland to better meet clients’ needs. Together, these entities manage $33bn in assets, serviced by 500 staff.

Management of assets is the key priority, says the bank, although clients are also assisted with wealth structuring, including succession planning. Clients now have a single contact, who provides them with simplified access to all the bank’s areas of expertise, wherever their booking centre may be.

The Luxembourg office in particular is being developed as a hub for creation of new products. The bank says: “Société Générale Private Banking Luxembourg offers global solutions for financial engineering and wealth management, as well as global expertise in the field of structured derivatives, hedge funds, mutual funds, private equity, life insurance and real estate investment solutions.”

While there have been some efforts to offload the UK subsidiary, Kleinwort Hambros (KH), which is no longer as central to the business model as previously, voices in Paris say they continue to prioritise the London-based business.

“As a full-service private bank, KH is well positioned to manage the wealth of individuals and their private structures with regards to all of their financial needs,” says the bank. “Our purpose can be summarised in one sentence: to simplify life’s financial challenges.” 

Best private bank in Mauritius

Winner: MCB Private Banking and Wealth Management

The first Mauritian bank to set up a specialised private banking unit, back in 1999, MCB has continued to drive wealth management developments in the country, growing its assets under management by 24% in the fiscal year 2020/21, despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In response to the pandemic, MCB provided moratoriums on loans for capital repayments and interest payments. It also halved management fees for fixed income portfolios for the 2020/21 fiscal year, in order to further cushion its clients, and pushed ahead with its digital transformation. 

“Locally, we have refined our offerings with a focus on digital to provide customers with easier access to banking products and services, but also to offer a more convenient experience,” says Alain Law Min, MCB’s chief executive. “This has helped us consolidate our leadership status as an innovative universal bank.

“On the international front, leveraging on our investment-grade status, we pursued our cross-border diversification strategies by selectively exploring business avenues in areas where we have built expertise over time, mainly across sub-Saharan Africa,” he adds.

The bank has also been working on a new savings, investment and financial planning mobile application platform, Juice Wealth, which is set to be released in beta to a small group of employees and customers shortly, providing an end-to-end service platform, from onboarding through to planning and borrowing and up to transactional and investment stages.

“This is in line with the expansion strategy of our private banking and wealth management segment, which is two-fold; first, aiming at democratising access to investment solutions, and second, growing our international client base, notably high-net-worth individuals in the sub-Saharan African, Middle Eastern and north African regions,” says Mr Law Min. 

Best private bank in Malaysia

Winner: CIMB Private Banking

CIMB Private Banking has focused on growing its existing client portfolio — helping clients achieve long-term investment objectives as well as advising them on tactical investments to capture market opportunities.

In the fast-changing economic environment, CIMB says it is vital to reassess and implement new strategies to adapt and react to the “new” normal and navigate extended periods of market volatility. 

The bank has further streamlined its teams of private bankers based on their individual strengths and skillsets, where bankers are carefully selected to service each of the identified client segments.

It says it has also looked at pairing clients and private bankers to ensure both parties mutually benefit from the relationship, ultimately encouraging long-term relationships. 

CIMB is leveraging an experienced team of dedicated investment consultants to complement the role of its private bankers in devising investment plans that match clients’ objectives, risk profiles, investments and business needs. The bank says this is crucial in managing key account relationships, which contribute 75% of its total assets under management, as of December 2021.

New ways are being sought by the bank to innovate its service approach and ultimately meet clients’ personal and business needs. This involves addressing client needs and safeguarding their wealth, while translating investment insights into actionable investments in client portfolios.

CIMB is also ensuring that investment plans are designed with risk mitigation strategies to minimise risk, especially during volatile market conditions. 

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the bank encouraged its private bankers to increase the frequency of contact with clients via digital channels. It provided regular market updates and recommendations through webinars, virtual meetings, conference calls and emails.

Following an initiative to streamline, improve and digitalise as many processes as possible, improvements have been achieved in operational efficiency and better process flows, the bank claims. 

Best private bank in Mexico

Best private bank in Spain

Winner: Santander Private Banking

With a presence in 11 countries across Europe and Latin America, last year Santander Private Banking in Spain enjoyed healthy net new money inflows of Ä4.5bn, which helped increase its client assets by 15%, to more than Ä126bn. 

“We have improved our value proposition and our discretionary portfolio management team has done a fantastic job in this challenging market environment,” according to Alfonso Castillo, global head of Santander Private Banking. 

Strong performance and inflows to the discretionary portfolio management platform were the result of a “timely selection of macro views”, as well as returns generated by the bank’s recommended range of investment solutions. 

As a joint initiative with its asset management arm, the bank has built a global team focused on environmental, social and governance investing, and launched a thematic strategy, Future Wealth, investing in the three megatrends of ‘future society’, ‘future tech’ and ‘future planet’, which gathered Ä4bn last year.

It also strengthened its alternatives offering, across private markets, real estate and hedge funds, to provide diversification in client portfolios. Leveraging collaboration across segments and geographies brought new business, consolidating the bank’s position. 

In Mexico, profits rose by 65% in 2021, while client assets also grew by 15%. “Our clients are very satisfied with our services, which translate into more business for our bank. We work extremely hard to keep this virtuous cycle moving in the right direction,” adds Mr Castillo. 

However, increasing market share, especially in its home country, is getting harder. “When you are the largest player in the market, growth is a challenge,” he admits. 

Continuing to grow is particularly hard in a “highly volatile” macroeconomic environment, with persistent inflationary pressures and risk of recession, he adds. “To navigate this challenging landscape, we must invest in digital platforms that will help us reach more clients faster and with more customised solutions,” says Mr Castillo. 

Best private bank in Monaco

Winner: Union Bancaire Privée

Union Bancaire Privée (UBP) Monaco is one of the group’s fastest-growing branches, in terms of both revenue and assets under management. “Since the bank identified Monaco as a location of strategic importance, it has regularly and consistently invested in this branch, in terms of capital, human resources and IT,” explains CEO of UBP Monaco Sérène El Masri.

Every year wealthy families of many nationalities relocate to Monaco — the world’s second-smallest country after the Vatican City — not just for its preferential personal tax regime, but also for the high level of security it offers to families, certainty regarding the rule of law and high-quality secondary education, as well as to enjoy the benefits of living in one of the world’s most beautiful regions, says Ms El Masri.

Investors can place their assets in a jurisdiction that has a solid reputation, while accessing a wide array of financial products and services. Regulatory changes have also made it easier for entrepreneurs to set up companies.

UBP Monaco focuses on high-end clients, many of whom expect structured trading solutions, with leverage where appropriate, and seek exposure to investments in real estate, intellectual property and infrastructure. UBP’s “unique” private markets offering includes “exclusive” investment opportunities, such as government-leased real estate, says Ms El Masri. Its new offering of music royalties was oversubscribed, showing client interest for innovative investments.

Clients want support with their acquisition projects, particularly via financing and wealth planning expertise, while the most “mature” families seek help to set up their family business governance arrangements or their family office. 

The biggest challenge for wealth managers is the pace of regulatory change over the past five years, believes Ms El Masri. “The banks that will stay on top will be those that can turn these changes into competitive advantages, by continuing to hire highly qualified and adaptable people, including from larger financial centres, and investing in the efficiency of their client-driven digital solutions.” 

Best private bank in the Netherlands

Winner: Van Lanschot Kempen

With a history dating back to 1737, Van Lanschot is the oldest independent financial institution in the Netherlands. Following the acquisition of merchant bank Kempen in 2007, the activities of the Van Lanschot Kempen group expanded and today include institutional investment management and investment banking too. 

“For decades, private banking has been our core business and clients appreciate our tailored, personal service and high degree of executive involvement,” says Richard Bruens, member of the management board, and responsible for private and ‘semi-institutional’ clients.

In 2021, private client assets grew by 37% to more than €58bn. Organic growth was supported by partnerships and acquisitions in the Benelux region, including the acquisition of a 70% stake in Belgian wealth manager Mercier Vanderlinden.

With the end goal of moving away “from a product-led approach towards a solutions-led approach”, in its domestic market Van Lanschot Kempen completed its transformation from a universal bank to an integrated wealth manager. The new organisational structure has increased the bank’s efficiency by boosting knowledge sharing, optimising use of resources across the group and improving economies of scale. 

“Becoming an ‘integrated wealth manager’ allows us to unlock the full potential of our group, by offering our private clients access to the full range of services and products across our business lines,” explains Mr Bruens. 

Today, the bank’s private clients benefit from “the same in-depth research and tailored services as institutional clients”. They can also invest in products previously only available to large, sophisticated investors, such as the Kempen SDG Farmland Fund, which aims to invest in land for sustainable agriculture across the globe, and the recently launched Kempen Private Real Estate Pool. 

“As ever, the search for yield and returns is ongoing and requires product innovation as well,” says Mr Bruens. “Private and semi-institutional clients are requesting access to asset classes that were previously the domain of sophisticated investors only, such as private equity, land, infrastructure and private debt.” 

Best private bank in New Zealand

Winner: ANZ New Zealand Private Bank

Strict Covid-19 lockdowns remained a feature of national life in New Zealand in 2021, further complicating an already challenging business environment. Despite these difficulties, however, ANZ Private offered its clients an uninterrupted service through a mix of proactive support and digital banking solutions. Thanks to these efforts, and other initiatives, ANZ Private boosted its performance across several key growth indicators over the period, along with its client satisfaction scores. 

Meanwhile, an emphasis on responsible investing has contributed to a notable organisational change for ANZ Private. “Sustainable investing is an increasingly urgent issue for both ANZ Private and for our clients. One of the ways we’ve recognised this is by appointing a new, dedicated head of responsible investment. This new role strengthens our focus and leadership in this critical area,” says Glenn Stevenson, general manager, ANZ Private. 

The bank has also enhanced its approach to responsible investing, with a particular focus on the accelerating global climate emergency. “We’ve recognised the urgency and wide-reaching impact of climate change through our investment approach which recognises both the material risks of climate change and the opportunities the transition to a low-carbon world presents. We continue to strengthen both our monitoring and stewardship processes to ensure we can act quickly in line with our sustainable investing approach,” says Mr Stevenson. 

Beyond its commitment to responsible investing, ANZ Private has deepened its proposition for emerging clients. In particular, the provision of investment advice through in-person appointments with investment advisers is helping to nurture a new generation of long-term customers, while promoting financial wellbeing across a wider segment of the country. 

Best private bank in Nigeria

Winner: Standard Bank Wealth and Investment

Over the past year, Standard Bank Wealth and Investment Nigeria has shown strong resilience, despite the lingering impact of the pandemic and complexities exacerbated by the devaluation of the naira against the US dollar, which has led to an increased appetite for foreign currency denominated instruments and alternative solutions.

The bank has continued to push forward with future-proofing its organisation through increased delivery of services and solutions that reach far beyond traditional financial services. In 2021, it also adopted a family-first philosophy, focused on forming lifetime partnerships with its clients and their families, and deepening its connections to the next generation of wealth ownership.

All of this comes at a time when the wealth management sector is growing fast in the country. Nigeria has the third-highest number of wealthy individuals in Africa, with a projected growth of about 38% in high-net-worth individuals over the next decade.

“In the past five years, there was increased participation in the Nigerian wealth management industry as the sector continued to witness traction with the entrance of hybrid fintech wealth management firms,” says Demola Sogunle, CEO of financial services firm Stanbic IBTC Holdings, part of the Standard Bank Group. 

In this regard, the bank’s footprint across 20 African countries, and its long history, has helped it to stand out, while offering significant benefits to its clients. “The most important benefit for clients within Standard Bank Group is the ability to transact and trade seamlessly within the African regions, as well as enjoy a platform for cross-border regional networking across the continent,” says Mr Sogunle. 

“We will continue to seek new market opportunities to serve our customers and deliver personalised solutions through the various touch points along the customer journey,” he adds. 

Best private bank in Oman

Winner: Bank Muscat

Bank Muscat considers itself the only local bank in Oman offering a complete suite of private banking products and services ranging from investment across asset classes, offshore banking solutions and real estate investment. This offer has helped serve an increase in private wealth across the Gulf Co-operation Council region in the past decade, as local investors have invested increasingly in international markets.

Part of this development can be attributed to the steep correction in oil prices which started in 2014. This saw oil-based businesses decrease their earnings while earnings from non-oil businesses increased, and rather than wealth being invested in illiquid local real estate, it went into liquid assets instead, says Bank Muscat.

As well as more traditional clients, the Sultanate has a young, tech-savvy population, and to target them Bank Muscat has adopted innovative ways to build its brand and marketing such as utilising social media. 

In this respect, the bank says it understands the relationship between brand equity and key value drivers in the business model, and views brand management as a key element to enhance value for all stakeholders. It says it adopts innovative ways to consistently build its brand and thereby sustain customer loyalty, growth in the business and, ultimately, success and revenue.

An innovative customer-centric approach can be seen in Bank Muscat’s efforts to develop a strong investment platform through which clients can invest in different asset classes across the globe. This helps to retain clients who want to continue investing through Bank Muscat rather than trying to access different products through different banks, it says.

Best private bank in Poland

Winner: mBank 

As a local Polish banking group, mBank has not had significant exposure in other geographical areas, nor planned to expand its private banking operation to other countries.

But, as the first private bank in Poland, it has been in a position to close the gap on well-established peers in western Europe, and in terms of technology surpass them, says Krzysztof Bratos, head of private banking at mBank. 

In 2021, mBank launched a fully digital onboarding process for its private banking and wealth management services. That was not such a surprise, given that self-service capabilities, mobile solutions and hybrid service models have been at the very heart of mBank’s strategy advances in this space over the past few years, says Mr Bratos. 

“Payment Services Directive 2 regulations, the pandemic and finally the war [in Ukraine] right next to our border have made digital solutions a foundation of our offering. It is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ feature,” he says.

Given that 80% of the private bank’s clients use digital and mobile solutions, Mr Bratos predicts that video meetings will likely outpace traditional office meetings by the end of the year. “It has simply enabled us to seamlessly offer our services in these uncertain times. In the future, we expect this will be a huge boost to our scalability as well as a significant magnet to the younger generation,” he adds.

mBank’s offering has also benefited from the importance of sustainable and impact investing. “Contrary to some of our competitors, we have decided not to introduce some sustainable investment solutions. Instead, we have embarked on a strategy to gradually convert all our managed solutions to be sustainable,” says Mr Bratos.

“We place sustainability at the absolute core of our future growth. It’s driven not only by expected business benefits, but equally by our responsibility towards the greater good for the world,” he adds. 

Best private bank in Portugal

Winner: BPI Private

Much of the positioning of BPI in its native Portuguese market has been around transition to a fee-based business model, along similar lines to that of parent institution CaixaBank, which successfully launched this approach in Spain from 2018.

BPI’s Swiss subsidiary has had this approach since 2002, and many of the bank’s clients already have a relationship with the Swiss entity.

“Although 2023 will be a key year for the success of this strategic decision, as BPI will become the first Portuguese private bank to have a fee-based advice model, we are confident we’ll be up for this challenge,” says Antonio Luna Vaz, executive director at Banco BPI.

This transition, however, has not been as smooth as the bank’s leader hoped. Some delays in implementation of the technical aspects of the Temenos reporting tool means the launch of the fee-based advice model will be held off until January 2023.

Tying in with this transition, the beginning of 2022 provided a healthy market for mutual fund sales, even though Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its implications for inflation and monetary policy rapidly changed the environment.

As that was called into question, however, clients became more interested in a solution that was, until recently, the key proposition in Iberian markets.

“With rising interest rates, we found an opportunity to sell structured products with guaranteed capital, something that hadn’t been possible for the past few years,” says Mr Vaz, who is also working on bespoke solutions for ultra-high-net-worth funds investing in private equity and real estate, to be launched in 2023. 

Best private bank in Romania

Winner: Raiffeisen Bank Romania

Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen (FWR) Romania, which launched in 2012, grew from around 1800 clients in 2020 to approximately 2200 at the end of 2021 and is currently one of the leaders in the industry in Romania in terms of volumes and the frontrunner in terms of setting new trends.

In 2022, the bank became the first and only Romanian private banking service to offer investment advisory services to its clients. “From the client perspective the main benefit is the curated straight-forward advice that they can get regarding how their portfolio should be built or adjusted, which is especially valuable in these challenging times,” says Adrian-Florin Negru, director of private banking FWR Romania. 

“Not only do we help them clarify and simplify what can otherwise be an extremely complex decision process that is usually associated with high-value portfolios, but we also do this by embedding in the advice a lot of valuable resources — domestic and international research, market and portfolio build-up knowledge — in an easy-to-understand manner for someone outside the industry.”

In 2020, the bank launched the first environmental, social and governance (ESG)-like fund in Romania, a locally managed fund of funds that gives customers easy access to the biggest asset managers in ESG around the world. 

Meanwhile, more than 33% of the bank’s clients in Romania are now women. “This marks a steady and constant growth across the years, and I would say that this is in line with what we are generally seeing in the Romanian business scene, where we have a sizeable representation of women in top management positions and also in the ownership structure of companies,” says Mr Negru. 

Best private bank in Saudi Arabia

Winner: Riyad Bank

Riyad Bank has continued to provide top-notch services to its high-net-worth clients. The bank now has more than 1900 active private banking clients, with that number growing by 12% in just the first quarter of 2022. 

Recently the bank has introduced a 360-degree banking experience concept at its newly established private banking centres, one-stop-shops where clients can conduct banking and investment activities under one roof. It has also expanded its physical operations beyond the major Saudi cities of Riyadh, Jeddah and Al-Khobar and into three other high-growth cities: Al Ahsa, Buraidah and Mecca.

At the same time, the bank is increasingly realigning its acquisition and retention strategy to include female high-net-worth individuals and younger generations. “Global wealth demographics have been going through seismic shifts in recent times. The growth in women’s wealth is arguably the most important acquisition strategy we need to focus on, as women are estimated to control around a third of the world’s total private wealth,” a bank spokesperson says.

In 2020, the bank also established a special unit to serve the royal family and key figures in government. 

Best private bank in South Africa

Best private bank in Africa for philanthropy services

Winner: Investec

Among investment themes recently communicated by Investec to its clients is the rise of alternative and private assets.

“With inflation increasing and gross domestic product growth declining, it is becoming increasingly difficult for investors to generate real returns through ‘conventional’ ways of investing,” says Cumesh Moodliar, head of Investec Private Bank in South Africa. “Investors need to look for alternative sources of returns and to be more flexible in their investment decisions.”

Asset allocations, he believes, will be increasingly shaped by the energy transition of the coming decade. “The shift to net-zero emissions will be metals-intensive and we are not seeing the scale of plans for expanding mining production that will allow for this to occur,” he says.

This is an environment helpful for mining companies over the long run, according to Investec, as well as benefiting commodity-exporting countries. 

While younger generations are keen to make investments with impact, their parents have preferred traditional philanthropy. What Investec is seeing today among its clients is a coming together of these previously separate disciplines.

“We’re seeing the generational divides closing as more investors engage with and understand the full spectrum of capital, which bridges the gap between traditional investing and philanthropy,” says Mr Moodliar. “This includes responsible investing, sustainable investing and impact investing, each of which have different expectations of financial return and impact.”

Investec’s enduring brand, signified by the zebra logo, has been a topic of discussion for some time in the group’s head office in Sandton, the financial district of Johannesburg. The thinking has been about enhancing the brand’s presence in financial hubs including Switzerland, Mauritius and the UK Channel Islands.

“We intend to unlock the full value of our Swiss banking licence to support the internationalisation of our clients’ wealth and will continue to evaluate opportunities in this space,” says Mr Moodliar. 

Best private bank in Sweden

Winner: SEB

A sense of history is behind SEB’s private banking offer. For more than 165 years, the bank has served as a trusted partner to some of the Nordic region’s most successful entrepreneurs, families and foundations, says Linda Jansdotter Larsson, head of private wealth management, SEB Private Wealth Management & Family Office.

She says that long history and experience have given SEB a deep understanding of the opportunities, but also the challenges, a significant fortune can entail. 

“We have grown to understand the mindset of a professional investor, the challenges [faced by] an entrepreneur, as well as the true meaning of managing private wealth with long-term horizons,” says Ms Larsson.

But the bank has not been complacent. Its digital corporate university, SEB Campus, together with internal expert and international business schools and universities, offers employees a wide range of learning content to support them in their ambitions. 

“We are using the power of technology to create scalable and global solutions, and are continuously exploring new learning formats. We also believe that learning is happening through everyday experiences and social interactions,” she explains.

“Therefore we, for example, offer mentorship programmes, voluntary work, work shadowing and gigs where employees receive the opportunity to work in another part of the bank for a short period,” says Ms Larsson.

SEB has also derived value from implementing environmental, social and governance (ESG) awareness in all client portfolios. “Our goal is to have a comprehensive and competitive offering to clients where ESG-related aspects are fully integrated into the investment processes, to meet customer expectations and contribute to the development of a sustainable society.” 

The bank offers a wide variety of funds and tailor-made investment management solutions. “By incorporating sustainability interests and preferences into our advisory, we improve the ability for customers to consider sustainable alternatives in line with their preferences,” she adds. 

Best private bank in Taiwan

Winner: CTBC Bank

CTBC Bank has moved fast in recent years. In 2005, it was the first bank in Taiwan to obtain the wealth management licence and the first to launch a family membership scheme in the country in 2013, says John Yang, senior vice-president, division head, private wealth management, CTBC Bank.

In 2018, CTBC officially launched a new service model for the ultra-high-net-worth segment, the Private Privilege (for those with more than $5m), providing comprehensive services including financial and non-financial services. “In 2020, we acquired the approval of the Wealth Management 2.0 license, and in 2022, we are ranked number one in the number of high-net-worth (HNW) customers and assets under management in Taiwan market,” says Mr Yang.

With travel restrictions forcing most banker-client interaction online during the pandemic, digital banking services and transformation have become one of the key points for HNW customer service satisfaction, says Mr Yang. “During the Covid-19 period, the volatility of the investment market also tested whether the bank’s digital service capabilities can help HNW customers quickly respond to the market, adjust investment portfolio positions and grasp investment opportunities,” he says.

CTBC Bank will continue to optimise its digital customer experience journey to achieve better customer experiences and streamline processes across front- and back-end technologies. For example, CTBC Bank launched “Next Best Offer” in 2022, with artificial intelligence models and big data analytics to empower relationship managers to provide the best decisions for every customer and identify potential HNW customers. 

“Additionally, CTBC launched Asset Allocation Engine Services (Intelligent Manager Asset Platform, iMAP) in 2022, the first bank in Taiwan to so, which helps relationship managers to connect customers’ personal data, investment positions, financial market information, and financial products to instantly construct personalised investment portfolios through relationship managers’ digital devices,” says Mr Yang.

Best private bank in Thailand

Winner: Kasikornbank Private Banking

It was another strong year for Thailand’s Kasikornbank Private Banking, which saw its assets under management continue to grow, along with its number of clients.

The bank introduced structured notes as an alternative investment for its clients in the second quarter of 2021, offering the opportunity to gain higher returns amid the more challenging economic trends in global stock markets. “The main benefit of this kind of investment is to open the opportunity to get better benefits from the current situation,” says Jirawat Supornpaibul, private banking group head of Kasikornbank.

At the same time, the pandemic increased awareness at the bank of the need to continually communicate with its clients, so in 2021 the bank introduced two new regular programmes on its social media channels. It also set up a team of assistant private bankers to support clients in areas like deposits and money market funds, freeing up private bankers to focus on more sophisticated products and client needs. 

Among the bank’s other innovative offerings is its land loan for investment product, which enables clients to request loans for investment using land as a collateral asset. “The growth of land loans for investment reflects higher trust in our brand,” says Mr Supornpaibul. “With the land loan for investment, clients can generate benefits from their land while still benefiting from the growth of land prices and keeping the land for heritage.”

In the past year the bank has continued to focus on sustainability, with one notable effort being the introduction of a long-term investment product, K-SUSTAIN-UI, which allows clients to profit from the shift towards environmentally friendly businesses while also helping to make a positive global impact. 

Best private bank in Turkey

Winner: Akbank Private Banking

An increase in clients each year is due to Akbank Private Banking’s strong brand name, people, service and breadth of products, claims Alp Keler, executive vice-president, private banking and wealth management at Turkey’s Akbank. 

Collaboration with affiliates AK Investment and AK Asset Management also played a key part in developing the private banking offer. This has made it possible to respond to clients’ changing behaviour and expectations, and offer a premium client experience with the products and services of the future with a “human-focused and technology driven business model”, says Mr Keler. 

Additionally, through its ultra-high-net-worth offering, designed as a family office service, Akbank Private Banking is able to meet clients’ sophisticated financial needs and expectations with a holistic approach featuring innovative tailor-made solutions. “This serves as a platform to foster multi-generational involvement in investment processes. The aim is to become clients’ and their families long-term strategic trusted partner, taking into account the requirements to manage the transition of the wealth to next generations by providing the continuity of high-quality asset management and advisory services,” he adds.

Digital leadership has also been a key means of responding to clients’ changing behaviour and expectations, says Mr Keler.

“Akbank Private Banking offers its clients a wide range of product and solutions that fit various client profiles and preferences. Account opening, advisory agreement approvals and initial advisory meetings with the clients are mostly made through digital channels, including mobile banking and relationship managers’ iPads,” he explains. 

“The investment module in Akbank Mobile enables clients to follow all their investment accounts, including price changes and trends, from a single point. They can also trade quickly, as well as accessing many other functions,” adds Mr Keler. 

Best private bank in the UAE

Winner: Mashreq Private Bank

An investor-first approach that aligns customer needs with Mashreq Bank’s value proposition is at the heart of the bank’s ethos. It enables the bank to better understand what products and services its clients require, proactively identify their portfolio gaps, alleviate the challenges they face in their financial planning, and create a curated investment journey. “The highlight is that such an approach allows us to embed ourselves in the client’s journey and exceed their needs and expectations,” says a spokesperson for the bank.

Mashreq Bank says it embarked on its digitalisation journey to address existing challenges and enhance customer experience through curated conversations and investment solutions. “The aim was to both onboard new customers as well as better service the existing customers by empowering relationship managers with the right set of information about customer risk profile and requirements, and correspondingly mapping relevant investment products. 

“The key objective was to assess how we could financially empower more clients and estimate customer appetite to invest in different assets, and then map the right products to the right customers. As a result, our customers get the benefit of curated interactions that are effective and designed to meet their specific requirements. From a numbers perspective, these initiatives have led to a 73% higher conversion this year,” says the spokesperson.

Mashreq Bank’s offer is also enhanced by a suite of customised solutions as it recognises each investor has a unique risk profile and varied return requirements. “Their circumstances are unique, as well as their investment time frames. Thus, cookie-cutter solutions are not optimal. Which is why we prefer to focus on creating customised solutions that have been curated specifically to meet the unique needs of our customers,” adds the spokesperson.

Best private bank in the US

Best private bank for family offices

Best private bank for innovation

Winner: Northern Trust

Northern Trust’s wealth management business, until recently, was focused on growing its footprint across its network of regional offices in the US. But that ambition is now becoming global. The bank recently hired a regional managing director to focus on its growing client base in Latin America and Canada, following the placement of an executive to lead efforts in Asia and Australia from Singapore. Management also points to increasing activity across Europe and the Middle East, where the bank has long had a  presence, but previously no serious growth plan, for supporting family office clients.

There is also a push to provide private banking services to non-US residents in the US. Typically, recent growth in this segment has come from clients from Latin America and the English-speaking Caribbean islands.

The firm is finding it must also increasingly adjust to the international dimension of American families, who may have been more inward-looking in previous decades. 

“Many of our US-based family office clients have some form of international exposure, whether from family members living in various locations throughout the world, or from a desire to have a diversified investment strategy in higher growth markets,” says David Fox, president of global family and private investment office services, Northern Trust. 

“Since family offices are set up to look at investment returns over a longer time horizon to achieve superior growth, their appetite for risk is different than many other investors. Given the growth potential in select international markets, we have found that more family offices have incorporated an international dimension to their portfolios but are being very selective given the current geopolitical uncertainties.”  

The bank’s management acknowledges that while it has been hand-in-glove with many families over several generations, it must increasingly take inspiration from outside of the family office sphere.

“Hubris is the enemy of innovation,” acknowledges Steven Fradkin, president of Northern Trust Wealth Management. “Learning from the success of other organisations and adapting their ideas to the needs of Northern Trust clients is not a weakness, but rather, a form of smart innovation.” 

Best branding in private banking (Europe)

Winner: Lombard Odier

When clients and advisers think about the Lombard Odier brand, its partners want this to represent responsible investing in particular, with investments around clean energy at the centre of this offer. According to the bank’s partners, the “environmental transition” has been driving a parallel “economic transformation”, which has now been at the centre of Lombard Odier’s investment convictions for at least a decade.

The bank’s succession plan, with the senior partner’s reins being handed over from long-standing frontman Patrick Odier to Hubert Keller, also reflect this thinking. While Mr Odier has long espoused the green investment philosophy, Mr Keller is seen as a more recent, although very sincere convert, devoted also to alternative investments.

It is important to him that his prized bank not only reflects wealth planning and servicing customers, but also the investment engine, which he has spent so many years building and perfecting on the institutional side and leveraging this for private banking.

For Mr Keller, like Mr Odier before him, it is important that a much smaller investment house such as Lombard Odier be able to give a good account of itself against much larger international competitors.

Although the Swiss marketplace no longer enjoys the advantages of friendly taxation and secrecy, he believes firms in Geneva and Zürich can still match all-comers. “In Switzerland, we are very privileged to basically lead the private wealth management industry, the only segment of the financial services industry not dominated by Anglo-Saxon firms, as everything else is,” says Mr Keller. 

“The reason we lead is that for decades, if not centuries, Switzerland has been viewed as a safe haven for offshore capital to seek a stable and robust regulatory framework to basically promote international savings.”

This environment also promotes investment expertise, he believes, in areas such as impact investing and Islamic services. “Lombard Odier has a strong Middle East business and we would like to offer this set of clients an offering fit for their needs,” he says. “We have an ambitious growth plan for this region. In that context, an Islamic offering will need to accompany the plan.” 

Best branding in private banking (North America)

Best private bank for wealthy women

Winner: Scotia Wealth Management

Scotia Wealth Management’s brand essence is developed around the theme of ‘enriching lives’, based on the recognition that affluence comes in many forms and the bank’s offering must be tailored to the “unique” circumstances of each client.

“It’s more about getting clients to think about what wealth management looks like for them, instead of us telling them what it looks like,” explains Scotiabank’s chief marketing officer Laura Curtis Ferrera. “Our brand strategy, ‘enriched thinking’, demonstrates that when our clients put their minds together with ours, incredible things are going to happen.”

The Canadian bank aims to collaborate with clients to create a ‘total wealth plan’, providing a deep and personal understanding of the steps clients need to take to reach their goals. It leverages technology and social media to raise brand awareness for clients, as well as give them access to thinking by the bank’s experts. “Familiarity with the brand promise impacts the bank’s net promoter score in a very positive way. When our clients are familiar with the brand promise, they are more likely to recommend us to friends and family,” says Ms Curtis.

The mission of the ‘Scotiabank Women Initiative’, recently expanded to the global wealth management division, is to break down barriers to economic and professional opportunities for female clients, at different stages of life, to be successful now and in the future, states Erin Griffiths, senior vice-president, client solutions at Scotia Wealth Management.

So far, the bank has provided training to more than 900 advisers and other employees in client-facing roles on how they can empower their women clients. It has also hosted more than 2400 women at wealth management sessions to help them transition through major life events, such as retirement, estate planning and care-giving.

A lot of the transfer of wealth in the next few years will be driven by women attaining more senior roles in the workforce, an increase in women-owned businesses, and a significant wealth transfer from their male partners, says Ms Griffiths. “We want to help women become more confident in making financial decisions and managing their wealth on their own terms.” 

Best branding in private banking (Asia)

Best private bank in Asia for succession planning

Winner: DBS Private Bank

Since Covid-19’s emergence, and amid rising geopolitical and financial market uncertainty, DBS Bank in Singapore reports seeing clients seeking out safe harbours and placing greater emphasis on long-term and strategic planning. Many have also expressed growing interest to give back to society.

“Furthermore, Covid has helped to accentuate Singapore’s appeal as a prime landing point to access the Asian region’s growing wealth of opportunities,” says Joseph Poon, group head of DBS Private Bank. “Many clients have shared that they were impressed by Singapore’s transparency, flexibility and tenacity in handling the crisis.”

The belief is that ‘Singapore Inc’ is now a jurisdiction in Asia beginning to resemble Europe’s safe haven of Switzerland, offering a cocktail of attributes including a strong force of law, political and economic stability, and high quality of life. “We see a long runway for Singapore’s wealth landscape moving forward,” confirms Mr Poon.

As well as its Asian connectivity, Mr Poon emphasises the bank’s digital infrastructure and capabilities, “which allow us to deliver a ‘hi-tech, smart touch’ approach that enables our clients to take greater control over their wealth, while engaging their relationship managers in more strategic conversations”.

Innovative investment solutions, combined with this technology, help empower clients, he believes, citing the establishment of the DBS Digital Exchange in 2020, enabling clients to tap into a fully integrated tokenisation, trading and custody ecosystem for digital assets. In 2021, DBS enhanced this proposition by launching Asia’s first bank-backed trust solution for cryptocurrencies, enabling clients to further integrate crypto-assets into their wealth succession plans.

While conversations around death and incapacitation have traditionally been frowned on by Chinese and other Asian families, perceived to be “inauspicious” and bad luck for the family, the Covid-19 pandemic acted as a turning point for these discussions around legacy. For example, the bank is seeing many families place greater urgency on structural, long-term needs such as wealth preservation and governance, which may not have been top-of-mind previously.

Best private bank in Asia for customer service

Winner: Siam Commercial Bank — Private Banking

Customer service is increasingly about who has the best digital channels and offerings. Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) Private Banking has constantly put itself on the frontline of developments in this regard, with its strong use of artificial intelligence (AI) to manage and optimise its investment portfolio.

Digital technology has proliferated across the bank and has now been applied to all its private banking customer journeys, with customers able to open all types of SCB accounts via a digital platform, iOnboard, by providing a one-time digital signature.

SCB’s back-end systems are now cloud-based and use quantitative models to meet client demands, while in 2021 the bank focused a lot of its energy on synchronising all of its platforms and operating models, as part of efforts to better serve clients’ needs. The bank’s advisory platform, BarraOne, provides clients with instant advisory.

“Digital technology has played the key role in how customer services are to be delivered,” says Lalitphat Toranavikrai, head of private banking at SCB. “We have enhanced execution efficiency for the whole customer journey together with improving the customer experience at every possible touchpoint.” 

At the same time, the bank’s platforms and products are now being run by AI. “AI allows us to gain much deeper customer insights, so it helps identify each customer’s specific needs,” says Ms Toranavikrai. “Private bankers can tailor investment offerings which fit with customer’s investment goals and risk appetite, and therefore improve overall customer engagement. However, there is still a room of opportunity to leverage more on AI regarding more precise decision-making processes to enhance overall private banker productivity,” she adds. 

Best private bank in Europe for customer service

Winner: ING Private Banking

Europe’s private banking market has endured numerous challenges in recent years, as the aftershocks of the Covid-19 pandemic have compounded long-standing economic and political difficulties across the region. Against this complex backdrop, and in a competitive marketplace, ING Private Banking has retained a focus on its core strategy of providing a differentiating customer experience. In particular, ING aims to serve its clients anywhere and anytime, with the objective of empowering them to make intelligent decisions. This is coupled with an underlying commitment to continuous innovation. 

“ING Private Banking is organised around our clients’ needs. Our customers can expect an experience that is easy, personal, instant and relevant to their needs, whether digital, remote or face-to-face. Our service goes beyond banking: we identify personal and professional aspirations, plans in life and financial and non-financial sustainable goals,” says Petri Nikkilä, head of retail and private banking ING Benelux. 

Meanwhile, ING’s forward planning service provides clients with a mix of tools to consider their long-term goals and objectives. This offering fits within ING private banking’s wider priority of offering clients broad, in-house expertise across a range of domains. “We leverage on multidisciplinary experts such as financial planning, investments and lending. This way we realise a superior customer experience and empower people to stay a step ahead in life and business,” says Mr Nikkilä. 

ING is also prioritising sustainability through several different initiatives that include, among other things, stepping up investments and exposure to renewable energy while restricting financing for new oil and gas fields. This approach reflects ING’s commitment to maximising both planetary health as well as the financial health of its clients. 

Best private bank in Latin America for customer service

Best private bank in Latin America for philanthropy services

Best private bank in Latin America for succession planning

Winner: Itaú Private Bank

The Brazilian wealth management sector has experienced “exceptionally heavy turnover”, with many bankers and executives switching companies, and “very aggressive” competition among firms for clients and resources. “Our clients, however, recognised our unique strengths and dedication and helped us notch up a very positive year,” states Itaú Private Bank CEO Fernando Beyruti. 

A key factor that generated positive results throughout the service chain was the strengthening of its commercial team, helping the Brazilian bank reach 700bn reais ($135bn) in assets under management at the end of 2021. “By enlarging our team, we were able to reduce its workload, allowing us to further personalise our service and enhance our presence in the daily lives of our most demanding customers,” says Mr Beyruti. 

In addition, the bank continued its regional expansion, with the aim of being closer to clients and more aligned to their cultural preferences. 

Significant investments in technology are designed to empower its bankers and give clients more freedom by offering them self-service tools. This will simplify the team’s day-to-day responsibilities and free up time for estate-planning work, explains Mr Beyruti. Improving access to the bank’s entire platform, including Itaú BBA, Itaú Asset Management and Itaú’s banking platform, is also a key goal.

The bank hosts several events with content and language tailored to the next generation, which includes visits to the bank as well as live cultural and sports events. A variety of training programmes cover topics such as behavioural finance, illiquid investments and tax planning. “The feedback we get indicates that our training programmes really create a bond between the younger clients and the bank,” adds Mr Beyruti. 

While many clients develop their own philanthropic programmes, some – aware of Itaú’s social engagement – ask for the bank’s support. Itaú is currently working on a project to bring together customers with common interests, so they can share experiences and join efforts for worthy causes.

Best private bank in the US for customer service

Best private bank in the US for philanthropy services

Winner: Bank of America Private Bank

Bank of America Private Bank, one of the oldest trust banks in the US, employs a ‘team approach’ to understand clients and to create customised strategies for them. A client’s team includes a private client adviser, supported by specialists in portfolio management, wealth strategy, philanthropy, credit, banking and trust services.

The bank employs more than 4000 professionals scattered around more than 100 offices across the country, serving clients with investable assets of $3m or more.

Among other services, the bank offers custom lending solutions, as well as specialty financing for yachts, aircraft or fine art. Its specialty asset management team manages timber, farm and ranch land, oil, gas and mineral interests, real estate and private business ownership interests, which means these non-financial assets can be integrated into clients’ overall wealth plans. 

A key challenge for private bankers is to engage with the next generation. Industry research shows most next-generation members seek financial and wealth planning advice, but less than half have access to it. “Our work is looking to bridge that gap and ensure our clients are getting the help they want,” says Anita Saggurti, next gen-strategy executive at Bank of America Private Bank. 

Educational events, such as one the bank recently held in New York, are effective in this regard. “Our clients not only want to learn but also build a community. Financial education programmes help them do both,” adds Ms Saggurti. 

The bank’s team of philanthropic specialists work with individuals and families to achieve their personal philanthropic and legacy goals. With nearly 200 professionals dedicated to serving its foundation and endowment investment management clients, the bank claims it is the largest team of its type in the industry.

“Our teams are measured on delivering an exceptional client experience, by understanding needs and delivering appropriate solutions. But like any other business we are measured on our financial results, which include retaining and growing assets,” says Jennifer Chandler, head of philanthropic solutions for Bank of America Private Bank. “If we understand our clients and deliver resources, we hit these financial measures.” 

Best private bank for education and training of private bankers

Winner: BNL BNP Paribas Private Banking & Wealth Management

Milan-based BNL BNP Paribas Private Banking & Wealth, part of BNP Paribas Group, partnered with SDA Bocconi School of Management to develop a 24-month training programme for senior wealth managers, aimed at meeting evolving client needs.

Based on six pillars, the academy agenda included executive training on managerial skills, digital service, corporate investment banking, credit structuring, wealth planning and investments. 

“The expectations of our clients today imply a strong and constant development of the private banker role,” says Chiara Bima, head of wealth management business development at BNL BNP Paribas Private Banking & Wealth Management. 

Wealth managers must be ready to support clients, both on the personal and professional side, manage family wealth and meet entrepreneurs’ increasingly sophisticated needs, while helping them deliver positive impact on the economy and society.

Private bankers need to be skilful in asset management and wealth planning, “with a strong capability in network thinking and problem solving”, she adds. They need to be able to quickly source expertise, both internally and from external professionals.

“Our goal is to provide timely solutions, leveraging the entire spectrum of expertise that BNP Paribas group can deliver, in Italy and globally,” says Ms Bima.

“Partnering with an internationally recognised, excellent school of management allowed us to have a more scientific approach and gain experiences to which we could compare and measure ourselves,” she states, explaining the bank is looking to repeat this approach in the future. 

Best private bank for impact and sustainable investing

Winner: Bank J Safra Sarasin

Bank J Safra Sarasin is a pioneer of sustainable and impact investing, with more than three decades of experience in this space. The bank launched its first sustainable mandates in 1989 and introduced its proprietary ‘sustainability matrix’ in 2001. “An important driver of success is the fact that all our strategies follow sustainability principles by default,” explains Bank J. Safra Sarasin’s chief sustainability officer Daniel Wild. 

The performance of sustainable strategies is affected by the economic cycle, as are traditional strategies, but over the longer term, integrating environmental, social and governance factors enhances risk management by reducing exposure to “industry laggards or firms unprepared for radical industry changes”, explains Mr Wild. 

The current energy crisis has caused a massive price increase in fossil fuel companies, but investors must continue to focus on “transition enablers and winning firms of the future”, with alternative energy, power grid enhancements, energy storage solutions and carbon removal offering “attractive opportunities”.

Wealth managers need to assess risks and opportunities related to the climate crisis but face significant issues. For instance, the introduction of a globally aligned price for carbon would offer guidance and create accountability, but the timing and level of such a price is “highly uncertain”. Moreover, a carbon footprint of a firm may not offer full evidence of its actual climate transition risk, which mainly depends on its business resilience and transition strategy. Science-based concepts and tools, combined with internationally aligned political action, are crucial to enhance predictability, believes Mr Wild. 

Through its proprietary ‘climate engine’, the Swiss bank classifies companies into two categories — green champions and climate pledgers — to build a portfolio better-positioned for a low-carbon economy. Data availability, quality and comparability remain significant challenges in impact reporting, but they may ease as “sustainable investments become the new normal”, adds Mr Wild.

Thought leadership is also an important differentiating factor. He says: “Our thought leadership and tangible commitments, such as our ambitious net-zero plans or biodiversity pledge, are proof of our ongoing efforts to continuously evolve together with our clients.” 

Best private bank for Islamic services

Winner: Maybank Islamic

Maybank’s private banking arm leverages the group’s wider network, resources and expertise to offer what it says is a complete spectrum of wealth management services.

The bank says its open architecture platform, complemented by group capabilities, and its experienced product specialists, along with a robust product review framework, ensures that investment products by highly reputable providers are onboarded. 

Over the past year, Maybank Private has aligned its strategic positioning to focus on onshore wealth in Malaysia of ultra-high-net-worth and high-net-worth clients. 

A key area of development of the bank’s offering in 2022 has been the provision of sharia-compliant funds Maybank Global Wealth Moderate and Maybank Global Wealth Growth-I that are designed to fulfil current financial and retirement goals. They also provide the flexibility to meet clients’ changing needs at different stages of life by building a range of portfolios and share class options for different needs.

These products follow the Maybank Mixed Assets-1 Waqf fund, launched in 2021, that invests in a portfolio of sukuk, sharia-compliant equities and/or Islamic collective investment schemes, and the feeder fund Maybank Asia Mixed Assets-1, which launched in the same year.

Added to this, the sharia screening service at Maybank offers sharia governance in providing financing and investment solutions aligned to the Bank Negara Malaysia guidelines. 

The Maybank Islamic Centre of Excellence is another part of the bank’s offer. This is a research-based initiative focused on developing industry knowledge and talent, while promoting Islamic financial literacy in the local and global arena. 

In 2021, Maybank says it upskilled 53 front line members of staff for Premier Certification on Islamic Wealth Management, which consists of Islamic wealth management and Islamic financial planner certifications. As a result, a new approach was adopted the same year in which front line staff started offering end-to-end Islamic wealth management solutions based on customers’ needs. 

Best private bank in Europe for philanthropy services

Winner: LGT Private Banking

LGT Private Banking offers customised solutions to help clients realise their philanthropic aspirations, whether they are at the start of their journey or have decades of experience. Advice ranges from helping clients develop a vision, assist them with succession planning for a family’s philanthropy plan, through to supporting experienced philanthropists in how to leverage their impact, says Nina Hoas, LGT Private Banking’s head of philanthropy advisory.

Providing platforms allowing philanthropists to come together with their peers, both in person and virtually, is also a key element of the offering.

While philanthropy units tend to be small at private banks, it is not the size of the team that matters, but its know-how, believes Ms Hoas. “Philanthropy advisers need to have deep expertise, which is not common in banking,” she says. Her team brings “decades of experience” working for international, non-profit organisations and foundations in more than 30 countries, across multiple languages and cultures. Furthermore, it works with an “extensive network of partners, experts and social change leaders around the globe” to offer expertise on specific topics, to meet client needs. 

The bank has set up a partnership with the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation to offer a donor advised fund service to Swiss-based clients, to meet increasing demand. While philanthropists committing more than SFr50m ($49.7m) may prefer to create their own foundations, for almost any level of giving below that donor advised funds are growing in importance and can offer a cost effective and efficient way to engage in philanthropy, she says. “We certainly encourage our clients in this direction.” 

The main challenge for the private banking sector is to raise client awareness and educate private bankers, adds Ms Hoas. Some clients do not ask for philanthropy advisory simply because they do not know it exists and relationship managers may not automatically think of offering this service. At LGT, though, philanthropy is “very close” to the bank’s owners, the Princely Family of Liechtenstein, and therefore it has had the chance “to grow, evolve and make a real impact”. 

Best private bank in the US for succession planning

Winner: PNC Private Bank Hawthorn

With new wealth being created at a rapid pace, client demand for succession planning services has been rising steadily. Business owners are keen to discuss business succession goals with their advisers, looking to create a “holistic wealth plan” that addresses both their business and personal circumstances, observes head of PNC Private Bank Hawthorn, Annamaria Vitelli.

Volumes will continue to increase, as only about a third of business owners have a robust, formal transition plan today and around 6% of them are baby boomers. Of these, 70% are planning to transition their businesses within the next 10 years. 

But it is crucial for wealth strategists to partner with business owners across the entire lifecycle of the business, so to have the opportunity to “have a seat at the table” when the time comes for them to sell the business and/or pass it to the next generation.

Passing wealth is merely one aspect of succession, says Ms Vitelli. “Succession applies not only to the business but also to the continued success of the family, which is often defined more by interpersonal relationships and family culture than by the structure of the wealth,” she says. 

“A succession plan, if properly conceived, implemented and communicated, prepares the next generation and future heirs to grow and preserve wealth, as well as transition wealth successfully from generation to generation.” 

Clients are increasing asking for more family meetings to ensure they are educating the next generation, with increased focus on philanthropy and generating positive impact. To meet their needs, Ms Vitelli says advisers must “integrate psychology with advice; be prepared to focus on values, purpose, and sustainability; and formalise family learning and governance”.

Rather than just on millennials, the focus should be on Generation Z, those aged 10 to 25 years old today, who will represent 30% of the workforce by 2030. “We will need to reshape how we educate and engage this population, as they are an entirely different generation having truly grown up in a digital world,” says Ms Vitelli. “Their expectations of how, when and by whom they are serviced are very different than what we have traditionally seen.” 

Best private bank for UHNW clients

Best performing private bank in North America

Winner: JPMorgan Private Bank

JPMorgan’s reputation in the US as the “university of private banking” is not just something that senior management is proud of, but an accolade they hope will go with the territory for years to come.

Those inside the Manhattan headquarters still see themselves as the “employer of choice” for advisers seeking to enter a team with access to market-leading investment products, which they can wrap in high-quality advice. In reality, it is difficult to argue with them. Recruitment and retention of the best advisers remains in the management’s four ingredients of success, alongside client acquisition, investment performance and generation of net new money. During 2021, JPMorgan Global Private Bank added nearly 300 new client advisers to its payroll. 

In recent years, the bank is increasingly trying to shake off its other popular label, that of the “product factory”. The line from above these days is all about using a “goals-based framework” in order to align the bank’s investment products with each client’s longer-term objectives and needs. 

But the new approach is not as “touchy-feely” as that of some competitors. After defining a client’s overall wealth goals and then developing a strategy to achieve these, bankers are instructed to “surround our clients with the best JPMorgan has to offer, whether that be succession planning, next gen advice, philanthropic endeavours or investment strategies”. 

Best performing private bank in Europe

Winner: CaixaBank

As well as innovating in digitalisation and investment delivery, CaixaBank has remained laser-focused on the bottom line and the business model needed to boost it.

Senior management has prided itself on its successful move away from, at times, questionable personalisation of portfolios that can lack the capacity of being able to respond to key market triggers.

The belief in Caixa’s Barcelona office is that, in reality, model-driven portfolios often provide better service delivery and, ultimately, an even-more personalised offer.

The underlying investment funds offered through this service will continue to be the central part of Spanish savings, according to the bank.

Sale of these core products, is, however, proving incredibly difficult, admits Víctor Allende, head of CaixaBank Private Banking. Some customers, he agrees, are now looking for a higher yield through products investing in less liquid private markets.

“At CaixaBank, our services in private markets focus on responsible advice, building robust and diversified portfolios in different sub-strategies based on the client’s profile and objectives, avoiding product sales and fads,” stresses Mr Allende, adding that investments in illiquid private markets have long been part of CaixaBank’s asset mix, along with other liquid investments.

Much of the future emphasis, says Mr Allende, will be on developing new, tech-based services, often inspired by developments outside the industry. “With the pandemic, digital platforms or marketplaces are transforming the way we all interact with the market,” he says, “whether in the field of buying and selling products, services, advertising spaces or in content distribution, among many others.” 

Best performing private bank in CEE

Winner: Komerční banka

Komerční banka (KB), the Czech division of Société Générale Group, experienced substantial growth in private banking client assets and net new money last year, thanks to greater synergies with corporate and investment banking, the ability to find new customers in the retail network and strong performance of its discretionary portfolios, real estate and private equity mandates. 

Thanks to its new private wealth management service for ultra-wealthy clients, last year the bank won the “three largest market mergers and acquisitions” in the country, along with several other big deals. The institution has strong coverage of global Czech IT and unicorn start-up companies, while it has made inroads in managing assets of the biggest private welfare foundations established by top Czech entrepreneurs. 

The bank’s market penetration now exceeds 38% of the top Czech 200 wealthiest clients, and more than 60% of the top 30. Its focus on family offices has also increased, with client assets sourced from this segment growing by more than 21% in 2021. 

Profit growth was driven by fee growth across product and services lines, including a 50% fee rise in structured products, based on an “upgraded model of longer maturities, highly diversified via indexes, bringing both better margins and lower risk for clients”, claims director of KB Private Banking, Petr Slaby. 

Education of relationship managers has also increased. “Our investment advisory approach is significantly above market standards in terms of description of product details, scenarios, liquidity issues and description of risks,” explains Mr Slaby. “We strive to provide different and innovative pay-offs to suit clients across all investment profiles, except for defensive ones.”

Educating clients on private equity has helped increase inflows into this asset class. 

“In our view, the market for structured products and alternative investments could grow further, in line with global trends of investments among high-net-worth individuals,” he adds.

Best performing private bank in Australasia

Winner: Westpac Banking Corporation

Westpac Banking Corporation has emerged from the turbulence of the Covid-19 pandemic in good shape. This is in part thanks to the development of resilient operational and service models, as well as the launch of new infrastructure. But it also reflects a personalised approach to customer service, which helped to boost customer satisfaction during a challenging period for the wider industry. Clients not only have access to a dedicated private banking team, but to investment specialists, global market specialists, lending and credit specialists and transaction banking services, among many others. 

Meanwhile, Westpac has also forged ahead with a number of notable digital innovations, as well as product and service offerings, that have augmented its performance. “Over the past 12 months, we have delivered significant business improvements to simplify, digitise and transform our business,” says Ashley Stewart, managing director, private wealth at Westpac. 

“We continue to invest in our market-leading Global Investment Services offering to enhance the digital investment experience for self-directed high-net-worth clients. Alongside this, we are continually enhancing our lending and transactional banking services, to deliver the best possible service experience.”

In response to increased client use of, and demand for, digital solutions, innovative digital lending services have also been deployed in recent times. In addition, Westpac has developed digital education programmes to build clients’ confidence and capacity when using new and existing offerings. 

“The shift to digital services across our client base is only accelerating. Our clients want to enjoy fast, secure, and seamless digital banking wherever and whenever they need, while continuing to engage with their private banker and associates for more complex, personalised services. They can enjoy the best of both worlds,” says Mr Stewart. 

GBPA 2022 Judges


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