Ten top tips for banking the super-rich

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There is no tougher client than a multi-billionaire. Few private bankers get the relationship right.

The global wealth management industry is in a state of flux. Costs are rising, while clients remain steadfastly risk averse, making it hard for private banks to generate much-needed fees.

Much of the debate among top wealth managers centres on how to build revenues. Scale and globalization are important. There’s a race to build assets from clients with net worth in the $1 million to $10 million bracket, as this group requires comparatively little of the traditionally onerous relationship management that ultra-high-net-worth individuals or families demand.

But the demand for the trophy clients – the super-rich – remains as fierce as ever. A few choice relationships can bring enormous scale of assets, and huge credibility in the close-knit world of private banking,

But what does it take to successfully manage the money of one of the world’s wealthiest? Euromoney recently spent time with the former head of a family office for one of the globe’s most successful entrepreneurs. He expressed amazement that so few private bankers really understood the needs of their most important clients.

He was kind enough to share his advice on the most common mistakes bankers make, and what it takes to be successful. So here, in his own words, are the top 10 tips for banking the super-rich:

1) You can have a structured/analytical debate, but what you have to manage is their emotions to stay on course.

2) How you talk to a client is vital: you have to listen and learn what they need and want, and transform that into a strategy which they can accept.

3) You have to learn what it means to make and lose money. Bankers simply don't understand that enough. These clients look at their portfolios every day, if not every hour. They have a right to know why they have lost money, and what you intend to do about it.

4) There are far too many interfaces – bankers are like bees around honey.

5) All too often, bankers fail to show to clients the good things they do.

6) Speed is essential – you have to be able to turn an idea into action within 24 hours.

7) Private bankers don’t understand the underlying needs and philosophy of the client.

8) The super-rich much prefer to talk to experts. They are not impressed by seniority. Yes, they’ll meet your CEO for a chat around the fire every now and again as a matter of courtesy, but what they want is someone who can tell them something they don’t know from a position of expertise.

9) Trust and personal connection is important, but performance is absolutely the key to the relationship.

10) All family offices want to diversify their PB relationships. The crisis sits very deeply with them. The fear of being overexposed to one bank is still very high.