The benefits of working with a private banker

Private bankers serve as a conduit between a bank and its busy professional clients.

“They are a single point of contact who act as a personal CFO,” says David Hall, vice president of private banking at Home Savings Bank. “They listen to their clients’ needs and use their experience and connections to give their clients the best financial advice and guidance regarding their unique set of circumstances.”

Typically, private bankers help their clients with deposit products and customized lending solutions. However, they also help guide clients through financial planning, investment needs, trust and estate planning and other areas of financial expertise.

In some cases, a private banker’s help can extend outside of the financial realm.

“It wouldn’t be unusual for me to help a client who lived in Ohio and was selling a Florida condo find a real estate agent and negotiate the commission and terms of the sales agreement, or help decide how to make the condo saleable and pick a contractor to do the renovation work,” Hall says.

Smart Business spoke with Hall about the role of a private banker in the lives of busy professionals.

Who should consider working with a private banker?

Busy professionals benefit the most from a private banking relationship. These people spend most of their time running their businesses and are looking for a knowledgeable banking resource to help simplify their financial life so they can focus their extra time on hobbies and family. They are experts in their line of business and are looking for someone knowledgeable who they can trust to help them manage their finances.

What is the relationship of a private banker with an individual’s other financial advisers?

Private bankers are typically part of a wealth team that should have access to a financial planner, trust planning and administration, investment portfolio management and retirement planning. They work hand in hand with them and the client’s external advisers and are not looking to replace them. Rather, their seat at the table helps busy professionals evaluate and manage their financial lives and relationships.

Once a relationship is established, what should the client expect from the private banker?

It should be expected that the private banker conducts regular financial check-ups, though their frequency should be dictated by the client’s personal preference. It’s advisable for clients to have at least an annual review of their finances, including their insurances, to make sure they are on track with their financial plan.

A client’s financial documents should be reviewed, such as their will, living will, durable power of attorney and health care powers and directives at least every three to five years to make sure they are still up to date and aligned with their goals.

Private bankers can also look after the finances of their clients’ spouses, partners and family, at the very least knowing where the finances could be found so that the appropriate steps can be taken in the event of an unexpected death.

Clients should be able to call their private banker outside of normal business hours and get a response. It will be clear that the relationship has value if the client is happy with his or her ability to transact banking in an easy and efficient manner.

What should someone look for in a private banker?

While it is good to know if a private banker has any specific accreditations, it is also important to know what experience a private banker has and whether it is diversified.

It’s good to work with a private banker who is involved in the community, serving on nonprofit boards and actively volunteering. Bankers who are active in the community are generally well connected and have a lot of resources to help guide clients in any request.

Generally, private bankers are inquisitive and not afraid to ask questions about their clients’ personal finances and goals. Bankers also need to listen to their clients’ answers and be able to help put a solid plan in place to achieve their goals.

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