AP Private | November December 2021

The great success obtained recently by private banking is there for all to see. And it is quite amazing to witness how quickly the field has changed over the last 10 years.

Indeed, private banking, for a very long time a mere self-representation, has undergone more changes over the last ten years than throughout a whole century.

Before 2013, merciless opponents of private banking described the field as a “petrified forest”: same banks, same centuries-old standings, entry barriers, hesitant clients who used to reward and preserve their assets through investments with almost guaranteed return and zero risks.

The number one rule of private bankers was discretion, and their mantra was secrecy. They were ready to pay in order not to stand out, while displaying wealth was considered a mortal sin.

Then, out of the blue, several competitive advantages started to melt like snow in the sun.

Private bankers witnessed the arrival of financial promoters in their enchanted gardens. At first treated with detachment and considered little more than door-to-door sellers, financial promoters have come to be regarded with (legitimate) fear and, more recently, with deference.

After ten years, figures speak for themselves: 40% of private clients are managed by former financial promoters, who became financial advisors first and are fully-fledged private bankers today.

Today, private bankers working for high-end banks decide more and more frequently to either change bank or leave their permanent position behind in favor of working as agents.

For this reason, private banks (even the most renowned and least inclined to media exposure) have started to communicate to avoid oblivion: their representatives give interviews and use social networks. This would have been unthinkable just a few years ago!

Moreover, we are currently witnessing a veritable generational turnover among top managers working for private banks: a whole generation of experienced bankers is being replaced by brilliant women and men just over forty.

A true revolution, which started a long time ago and took a long time to be metabolized first and then acted upon. Such revolution is dictated by the knowledge that the world of private banking needs to adapt in order not to disappear.

Even octogenarian private and HNW clients are currently giving way to their fifty/sixty-year-old children or to their thirty/forty-year-old grandchildren.

Those people are much more unbiased in terms of multimedia fruition (they make a solid use of social networks and the Internet). Moreover, when it comes to their bank, they tend to favor a hybrid approach based on personal meetings and remote banking.

Has the time come for us to admit that the motto “everything changes so that nothing changes” does not apply to the field of private banking?

Nicola Ronchetti