Six crucial steps to becoming a stellar private banker

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We speak to Ebru Kapusiz - a woman who has been there, done that, when it comes to private banking. Her career spans more than 15 years and includes stints in asset management, fixed income securities trading, and private banking in Australia, Turkey and Singapore. Most recently she was an associate director at UBS Wealth Management in Singapore. Kapusiz now runs Anka Consulting, a training firm for wealth managers. Here are six key career tips she's picked up during her time as a private banker.

1) Know the markets

Private bankers have to constantly update their theoretical knowledge in products, markets and current affairs. They should develop and 'own' an understanding and vision of where they think the markets are headed - ideally commensurate with the view of their employer. It is important for them to be worldly, confident and well informed when they communicate with clients.

2) See how others see you

Private bankers need to reflect on how they communicate with clients and be open to assessments in order to find out how clients and peers perceive them. They should identify gaps which need to be filled to allow the advisory process to become more profitable for all parties.

3) Add value

Clients are looking for 'value' in their private-banking relationships, so wealth managers should develop a more holistic approach towards them, shifting the focus away from selling products and making profits to becoming a 'partner' to the client. In this sense being more inquisitive about the client's current situation (family, business, time of life and banking needs) and being aware of the importance of 'client risk management' is crucial. If used effectively, these notions may lead to areas where bankers can create value, either by service offerings or lead generation to other relationships.

4) Get a life outside of work

Not all client communication is about markets or products. The client often tries to engage the private banker and assess the type of person he/she is - whether his/her outlook on life is interesting, likable and trustworthy. Life is not all about work, and business communication is not always about business. A person with hobbies and interests outside the office is generally well rounded and worldly - able to build a good rapport with clients.

5) Don't move for the money - care for your clients

Although private bankers in Asia have frequent opportunities to change employers, and talent snatching seems to be the norm, candidates should exercise caution before moving because it does not bode well for their clients. In the long run money will come if you are successful and dedicated, so your clients, not your compensation, should be your primary concern. Moving to another employer is a risk in terms of transferring assets: research shows that only a certain percentage of assets move with the private banker.

Those to want to change firms for valid reasons should still be careful and analyse the following: whether the new bank's platform is able to serve the client; any added value for the client as a result of the switch; the new employer's philosophy (and whether it matches the banker's); the firm's dedication to career planning and personal growth; and the general outlook of management and peers - whether they have a long-term professional approach and are dedicated to building a lasting relationship with the client.

6) Ask yourself: 'Can I stay in this sector for the long haul?'

With all the poaching going on, it seems there aren't that many 'good' private bankers and there is constant talk of talent shortages because the job requires immense hard work and lots of industry experience. The major initial questions to ask are 'do I really want to be a private banker?' and 'is my personality suited to being one, given all the demands that come with the job?'. An honest answer to these questions - putting all monetary motivations aside - would help people, especially newcomers, make a better decision.

The second consideration is having the mindset for the business. The GFC has shown that perspectives of wealth managers need to shift considerably in order to restore confidence. The industry is evolving and new considerations are coming into play, most of which involve a long-term approach that focuses not on selling, but on building a 'partnership' advisory process in which both banker and client are more empowered. Solutions are established jointly, rather than being pushed by the banker in the form of new products.

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