Are private banks good for expatriates?

07/02/2021

Private banking is a big, global business. But how do expatriates decide where to place their wealth? It is not uncommon to see relationship decisions made upon 'tangibles' such as the associated prestige of holding an account and having the 'red-carpet rolled out' without regard to the 'intangibles', such as the potential conflicts of interest, product range, competency, charges, access or terms on offer. It is often difficult to know what to expect, without having to discover through experience. So how can you avoid future surprises and keep yourself on a wealth-building trajectory?

Private Banks generally make their money from multiple revenue lines - transactions, lending/credit, managing the liquid assets of their clients and product fees. This can make their charges structures long and complex. There is also arguably far more to professional wealth management and asset management than a private bank can (and should) provide. Some retail banks have set up 'private banking' divisions. Some offer products which often match up poorly against those offered from the wider marketplace and may confine advice to products rather than the expatriate's entire balance sheet/holistic position. There is certainly a lot to be cautious about when choosing a private bank (you only have to Google 'private-banking scandals' to find 93.3 million results).

Expatriate clients, conscious of global challenges, are looking for organisations that can help them reach their financial goals while keeping a keen eye on what is happening in the world around them and helping them manage their responses to these events on a behavioural and emotional level. This, however, was never the role of the traditional private bank. Is your private bank demonstrating a high level of trust and an unyielding duty of care? Are you working with a private banker, or a salesperson? The high-profile failings of private banks have led to the creation of an asset management profession and both the multi-and single-family office, as ways for those with significant wealth (and awareness) to attempt to obtain better long-term outcomes. 

We are a huge believer that the right banking relationship can make a huge impact on your overall finances and well-being. As ever, we are here to help: info@expatwealthatwork.com