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Private banking: Wealth managers struggle to define their identities

For many of the largest private banks 2015 was a year of restructuring and geographical retrenchment. Only a few global players remain. This year looks set to be just as turbulent, but will clients put up with yet more change?

Phil Di Iorio-600

Phil Di Iorio, chief executive at JPMorgan Private Bank and Euromoney’s best private banking CEO of 2015

Last year was a challenging one in wealth management, showing again that the industry has yet to find its footing in a low-return, high-cost environment. 

During 2015 the main global banks made big changes. HSBC started the year off embroiled in tax evasion charges and ended it by appointing Rothschild to help restructure its private banking business. It also lost its head of China, Richard Hu, to Julius Baer. HSBC Private Bank’s position in Euromoney’s private banking survey 2016 reflects those challenges. It dropped from fifth to eighth place in the overall rankings and fell back one place to sixth in Asia. 

Deutsche Bank made a U-turn in its strategy last year. It split its private wealth management and asset management businesses – a division it created just three years ago – losing group head Michele Faissola in the restructuring. It sold its US private client business to Raymond James. It held on to its sixth position globally. 

Credit Suisse joined Deutsche Bank in giving up on wealth management in the US.

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