Private banks such as Banque Havilland (whose Kirchberg headquarters is pictured) are providing briefings on key business topics as a way to keep their high net wealth clients engaged, according to the consultancy PWC. Library photo: Romain Gamba
Private banks, like all types of banks, are investing in technology and digital innovation. However, the tools being developed by private banks are meant to deepen and strengthen one-on-one relationships with high net worth individuals, as opposed to shoring up operating margins, observed a recent report from the consulting firm PWC.
“The needs and expectations of HNWI clients show that the importance of individual relations with personal bankers is a crucial aspect,” the PWC paper said. Instead of pushing transactions and automated tools to mobile apps and web portals, private banks are investing in “digital solutions that are able to enhance the face-to-face nature of private banking”.
The “face-to-face” descriptor included private briefings and presentations. For instance, PWC wrote that private banks have been:
“... launching initiatives to inform clients about specific topics and offering knowledge about trending issues. An example is [Banque Havilland], which organises a series of talks to provide insight and promote discussion about subjects that have, or may have, an impact on the overall business environment.”
The definition of “face-to-face” will take on a different meaning as superfast mobile networks are built out. PWC reported that:
“... some private banks are making use of 5G internet connections to offer clients the possibility of having meetings with personal bankers and advisors via augmented or virtual reality, and even holograms, from distant parts of the world. In this way the HNW clients are able to get real-time professional advice regarding their wealth.”
Client ties could also be intensified as the institutions begin to provide secure storage services. PWC noted that:
“Some private banks have set up electronic safe deposit boxes for the exchange of documents between client, banker and third parties such as lawyers.”
The PWC report additionally observed investments in “access to social and environmental initiatives” and in blockchain and crypto-assets, driven by client demand. To rollout these new services, private banks have been partnering with fintech startups in “more than half” of all cases.