Global private banking: Head to head with America

By:
Published on:

GS, MS and JPM have all arrived on the global map. Are the traditional private banks ready for the challenge?

Traditionally US banks have not been a concern to global private-banking players such as UBS, Credit Suisse and HSBC. They have generally jumped in and out of regions or have focused solely on trading and investment banking, or commercial banking as their proposition rather than private banking. 

But all that has now changed. Both Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have plowed into lending – the former globally, the latter domestically. And JPMorgan has firmly placed itself on the map of private banking by expanding in Europe and Asia and staying there.

US banks don’t do weak leaders and each has a CEO who has put in time in the wealth management industry: Tucker York at Goldman Sachs, Peter Charrington at Citi and Phil Di Iorio at JPMorgan. For the traditional players to remain in competition their own leaders need to have the clout of their American peers. 

Through the storm

That’s evident at UBS Wealth Management for example, where the CEO of that division, Jürg Zeltner, has guided his business firmly through the storm of a financial crisis and a US tax-evasion scandal. Zeltner’s bank ranks second globally this year and his own standing as CEO comes in second place globally only to JPMorgan’s Phil Di Iorio. 

Julius Baer’s Boris Collardi is also highly regarded. He was voted as third best CEO of a global private bank, while his firm ranks ninth globally. He joined Julius Baer in 2006 after 12 years at Credit Suisse where he held the position of global CFO for the private bank among other roles. Collardi made a name for himself after orchestrating the acquisition of Merrill Lynch’s Asian wealth management business. 

What is interesting are the names missing from the top 10 global CEO list. While HSBC Private Bank still ranks fifth, its CEO, Peter Boyles is nowhere to be seen on the rankings of CEOs. Indeed he has been elusive since taking over in December 2012. It seems as if HSBC Private Bank has been in limbo since Chris Meares retired in 2011. Krishna Patel took the role for a year and then resigned. 

Since Boyles replaced him he has said little other than that the firm’s strategy isn’t changing. Whether he is biding time till a replacement is found, who knows? But HSBC as a top global private bank will need to think about who is at its helm and it is going if it wants to go head to head with the Americans.