Special clients seek stability, reputation

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 July, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 July, 1994, 12:00am

SWISS Bank has a long-standing reputation as a private banker.

While other financial institutions are relative newcomers to providing special banking packages for wealthy individuals, Swiss Bank has been doing so for decades.

Head of private banking, Kathryn Shih said: ''This has been one of the main elements of our business for 60 or 70 years.

''Some banks are only just realising the potential for providing these kinds of services, but we have been doing this for a long time.'' An individual needs invest a minimum of US$1 million (HK$7.8 million) to qualify for private banking.

Each client is assigned a relationship manager to look after his interests and handle accounts.

Another member of staff would serve as a back-up.

The bank's services range from investments in money markets, stocks and shares, foreign exchange and securities.

Ms Shih deemed it essential to listen to client requirements.

She said: ''You may have a conservative investor who wants little risk who may be suited to our portfolio management service.

''A more aggressive investor may be interested in an equity portfolio.

''It is a question of finding out exactly what the client wants. We emphasise having a close relationship with customers.

''Some have been with us for 30 years.'' Private banking services could extend to all areas of a client's finances, from domestic to business.

''Sometimes we are asked for advice and help with a customer's firm and we can do so. We have the expertise, staff and services to help,'' Ms Shih said.

The bank's reputation for discretion and stability was a drawcard for clients.

''People come to us for a variety of reasons, but in general they want to put their money somewhere safe and secure and somewhere where it will grow,'' Ms Shih said.

''In the past people used to think that Swiss Bank was rather old fashioned and staid. That is no longer the case. We now have the infrastructure to carry out the most complicated of financial deals.'' She said the personal banking sector would continue to grow.

''There is a real demand for this kind of service and other banks have got involved. We say that we have the expertise because private banking has been one of our core businesses for a very long time,'' she said.