AP Private | May-June 2021

After having assisted a client for years, any private baker who is suddenly dismissed by his client’s descendants must feel great frustration.

It is one of the first rules of financial consultancy: when a patrimony is very articulated and complex and the family is large, a private banker needs to understand and follow its dynamics accordingly.

Establishing a relationship with a client’s family is like weaving a web: it requires time, perseverance and discretion.

This is complicated by the generational barrier. The boomer generation has always felt an intrinsic respect for banks. On the other hand, their children see the bank as one of the many apps available on their smartphones.

The director of the bank can make the difference, most of all when it comes to entrepreneurs. Recent crises and bank mergers have contributed to the reduction in the autonomy of individual bank employees in favor of a more solid, yet less personalized system.

The level of satisfaction with private bankers – which is one of the highest values of the field – is one of the most interesting markers as it changes with the age of the client: the older the client the higher the level of satisfaction.

The difference is quite substantial: 34% of private clients express full satisfaction with their private banker, a percentage which decreases to 22% among clients born between 1980 and 1990.

There are three main reasons of dissatisfaction.

The first reason, according to millennial clients, is insufficient proactivity or a strong focus on contingent issues: they call only for bureaucratic issues (66%); irregular contact; hardly available when needed (19%).

The second reason is connected to communication: according to 15% of them, they write too many emails and do not use other means of communication (e.g. WhatsApp).

The third and most worrying reason is: they do not speak the same language as their clients (21%) and they do not enquire about their clients’ life projects and interests (11%).

Intergenerational dialogue is a very old issue, which takes on an even more important meaning when it comes to money and life projects.

One possible solution could be the cooperation between senior private bankers and new recruits: the senior private banker would guarantee professional continuity, while the new recruit would act as a cultural mediator.

The second solution consists in the adoption of platforms and digital procedures which would make digital natives feel less prisoners of holographic signatures and in-person meetings when unnecessary.

This is an irreversible process: in fact, private banks who pay attention to digitalization and to the dialogue with millennials are growing organically year after year. Other banks just have to hope in the immortality of their old clients.

Nicola Ronchetti