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The importance of redefining private banking

The importance of redefining private banking
10-04-24 / Gareth Matthews & Renzi Thirumalai

The importance of redefining private banking

For too long, private banking has been stuck in an outdated transactional mindset, focused solely on expediting daily banking needs for wealthy clients. True private banking needs go far beyond mere transactional prioritisation and convenience; it requires an understanding of the powerful emotions tied to an individual's finances and life goals and a fundamental shift towards a model that provides comprehensive value-adding advisory solutions.

At its core, anything an individual does with money is an emotional transaction. Our financial decisions are deeply intertwined with how we want to live our lives, provide for our families, and achieve our personal and financial ambitions. Amassing wealth is about much more than numbers in an account – it represents the potential to realise our hopes, dreams, and legacies. Yet historically, most private banking has treated finances like a purely functional checklist of transactions from deposits and transfers to payments and withdrawals.

This antiquated 'red carpet transactional' approach is no longer enough. Private banking needs to be a valued partnership that aligns big-picture financial management and advice with the client's personal life goals. Private banking clients need, and deserve, advisory capability supported by carefully calibrated solutions that are precisely attuned to their individual, multifaceted life ambitions and personal circumstances. Delivering this requires deep relationships between clients and highly skilled financial advisory professionals who recognise the emotional complexities at play and have the expertise and knowledge to craft strategies to maximise value across all areas - from investments, lending and insurance to retirement and estate planning.

The truth is that private banking should be less about banking itself and more about holistic wealth cultivation via personalised advice. It requires a fundamental reorientation towards a trinity of service, relationship, and above all, expert guidance. Rather than elevated "clerks" facilitating transactions, traditional private bankers need to level up and serving as trained advisors mandated with helping each client achieve his or her unique objectives using carefully-tailored financial and investment strategies designed to make them tangible.

This is the driving philosophy behind the 'Private Advisor' model by RMB Private Bank, which outlines that an integrated Private Advisor must invest the time and expertise to fully understand the entire context in which their clients' wealth creation efforts occur. They must have a comprehensive view of that context, recognising how every action relates to other aspects within the individual's wealth ecosystem.

By leveraging cutting-edge digital platforms to handle routine transactions, we free up our Private Advisors to focus on the higher-order element of what their clients need, namely industry leading advice. Our Private Advisors take the time to thoroughly understand each client's circumstances, deconstruct their financial ambitions into achievable goals, and meticulously solve for their investments, lending, insurance, retirement planning and legacy planning needs.

This approach is evident in how we operate across our full services offering. When constructed on these strong foundations of integrity, credibility, legitimacy and trust, the Private Advisor's relationship with each client evolves into a profound partnership. Clients are empowered and they can feel secure that their RMB Private Advisor not only grasps their financial affairs, but the expectations, desires, fears and ambitions of the human being behind the numbers. When private banking is realised through this lens, it fulfills its full potential helping clients from young professionals to high-net-worth individuals manifest their ambitions through smart, disciplined financial stewardship.

A prime example of the effectiveness of this approach is our discretionary investment offering, which guides clients through deep consultations to crystalise their desired outcomes from the outset. With those individualised goals as the north star, our seasoned investment experts then build and manage bespoke investment portfolios meticulously crafted to manifest each client's specific personal benchmarks for success. Complexities are demystified, financial discipline is instilled, and a climate of authentic trust is cultivated. It's a formula that is perfectly encapsulated in our promise to our clients that when they can define the success they want to achieve (with our help), we will then create the 'recipe' required to achieve it.

While operational efficiencies and transactional support will always provide functional value; the future of private banking belongs to institutions that can combine emotional empathy with financial and investment acumen to create and realise our clients' bold legacies.

*Gareth Matthews, Head of RMB Private Bank and Renzi Thirumalai, Chief Investment Officer, FNB Wealth and Investments

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