Thursday, January 17, 2008

How private banking can make fairly rich people richer, and how to avoid the pitfalls

Private banking is relationship banking with a professional adviser; once for the very rich, now for anyone with five figures to spare. You will get the benefit of investment and tax avoidance advice, and ideally a better class of service than your local bank.
In times gone, private banking was a personal relationship with a banking professional; the preserve only of extremely wealthy individuals, and designed to help them remain extremely wealthy individuals.Nowadays, private banking has become so competitive that you can find many open doors if you only have £10,000 in your pocket. I know that’s a lot, but it’s not the millions you required before. With £100,000 plenty of private banking agents will pop the kettle on for you. Furthermore, they want to talk to you because they know that if you have £10,000 now, you’re the type of person who might just have a million later. Making money is a lot easier if you have some in the first place. Therefore these days, it’s not just the personal relationship which counts- it’s also that the individual should be an investment genius, with a full knowledge of investment opportunities, tax avoidance schemes, offshore portfolios etc. to make your money go further.All the main banks have private banking arms, then there are plenty of specialist private banks- in fact thousands- it’s a global industry, and many sit quietly offshore in Monaco, the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands or the Isle of Man. There are famous names you will have heard of like Coutts (part of NatWest); but again there are two caveats. Firstly, remember that you require a relationship- someone who you will know for some time to come and will help you manage your money. A private banker is a financial adviser to the rich! And stemming from that, our second caveat: many offshore private banks are little more than fronts for a specific investment scheme; and you don’t have any legal protection in offshore regimes. So be sure to get a reputable company on your side, not a fly-by-night.

Private Banking

Private banking is a term for banking, investment and other financial services provided by banks to private individuals disposing of sizable assets. The term "private" refers to the customer service being rendered on a more personal basis than in mass-market retail banking, usually via dedicated bank advisers. It should not be confused with a private bank, which is simply a non-incorporated banking institution.
Historically private banking has been viewed as very exclusive, only catering for high net worth individuals with liquidity over $1 million, although it is now possible to open some private bank accounts with as little as $50,000 for private investors. An institution's private banking division will provide various services such as wealth management, savings, inheritance and tax planning for their clients. A high-level form of private banking (for the especially affluent) is often referred to as wealth management.
The word "private" also alludes to bank secrecy and minimizing taxes via careful allocation of assets. An offshore bank account may be used for this purpose.