Who is the best private bank CEO?

By:
Helen Avery
Published on:

The industry has voted – and being the best bank doesn't necessarily mean boasting the best CEO. Who do people think are doing their job? Find out in Euromoney's exclusive survey.

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This year,  Euromoney’s Private Banking Survey asked the thousands of respondents to name their favourite heads of private banks. Interestingly, the results of the top 10 CEOs differ to the top 10 global private banks that the respondents voted for. HSBC and Pictet, for example, make the top 10 ranking of global private banks, but their CEOs do not get the same love from the private banking industry.

Peter Boyles, CEO of HSBC Private Bank, has been largely elusive since taking over in December 2012. He joined HSBC in 1975 and went on to become CEO of continental Europe before stepping into Krishna Patel’s shoes. Patel who had been head of the investment bank at one point, resigned after only one year in the role after replacing retiring Chris Meares, who ran the business from 2006 to 2011. 

Boyles was made a Group managing director in December 2013 in addition to being CEO of the private bank, but has not made much noise other than to say he wouldn’t be changing strategy. It’s not quite clear what HSBC Private Bank’s global strategy is, although undeniably it is good in the super-affluent business and emerging markets. That is frequently reflected in the Euromoney 2015 Private Banking Survey where it ranks top globally for super affluent. 

Pictet is something of a different story. It has been very clear on its strategy and very transparent – last year it changed its structure to a corporate partnership – relinquishing liability for its underlying businesses. As part of the change in legal structure, the bank now publishes an annual report. 

On the move

This year in Euromoney’s survey the bank moved up to 10th from 13th globally for best private banking services overall. Its structure of seven partners, however, means that no one is responsible for wealth management alone – or so the media relations’ team say. It appears the industry feels the same, given the lack of votes for an individual name at the firm. 

Ivan Pictet used to be the voice of the firm, but stepped down from his role at Pictet in 2010. Marc Pictet is a partner, but Jacques de Saussure is probably the most public face of the firm. He is very highly regarded by his Swiss peers. 

So who do industry participants think is doing a good job of running their firm on a global scale? JP Morgan’s Phil Di Iorio wins the most votes. Those who have worked with him point to his work ethic and thoughts on leadership as making him a prime candidate for the title of best CEO.

Jürg Zeltner, UBS Wealth Management’s CEO, ranks second. Zeltner has held this role since 2009 while UBS was teetering on a knife-edge and he has turned the firm’s fortunes around by being tough on implementing cost cuts and a new strategy focused principally on advice rather than product, and one of targeted streamlining and expansion rather than acquisitions. 

Zeltner, and Sergio Ermotti, succeeded in drawing a firm line under the UBS pre-financial crisis, and the UBS of post-financial crisis – something that Credit Suisse might want to take a look at, as it has yet to distance itself from a CHF1.6 billion fine from the US authorities, and geographical and client segment strategy tweaking. Zeltner is often tipped to be the replacement to Ermotti or even the future head of rival Credit Suisse. 

Which CEOs are outpacing their banks on the ranking? Julius Baer’s Boris Collardi ranks third as best global CEO, even though his firm is only ranked ninth globally. Luis Moreno at Santander is also more highly regarded than Santander Private Bank itself. He ranks sixth, while his bank ranks 13th. 

UniCredit also makes the top 10 when it comes to senior management. Dario Prunotto, who runs the Italian private bank, and Franz Witt-Doerring, who is president of UniCredit-owned Schoellerbank, received the most votes within UniCredit’s overall CEO votes. The firm has no global CEO and instead splits its roles among banks and countries.