A 'new order' has been ushered into private banking practice around the world by the events of September 11, according to William Oullin, managing director Barclays Private Banking. 'One may think of it in terms of a headache, but it is also as a source of opportunity,' said the former Switzerland-based banker now responsible for running the financial affairs of Barclays' rich and super-rich customers around the world. Mr Oullin said the new emphasis placed by banking regulators on 'know-your-customer' guidelines as part of a crackdown on terrorist financing was a worldwide issue. 'Regulators around world are tightening-up procedures and we all have very clear and strict obligations to know our customers - what is the source of their assets? How has the money been acquired? And can it be corroborated? 'The most recent dimension is the obligation to feel comfortable with their transactions - especially when it comes to money transfers that the customers are doing. 'I would say it is a new order which has emerged,' he said. Formerly chief executive for JP Morgan's Swiss private-banking operation, Mr Oullin said he endorsed the view among bankers that a bank's single greatest asset was its reputation. And reputation was one dimension of the opportunity now presented by the new strict regime of knowing your customer and his transactions, he said. 'The second is that the better you know your clients, the better positioned you are to be of good service,' he added. As a former banker to the wealthy in Switzerland, Mr Oullin speaks with some experience. 'It is not generally known, but Switzerland was the first government to impose on its banks the obligation of making a declaration of who the beneficial owner was of assets held in its banks. 'Every time, I saw in the beginning some discomfort around completing the form . . . but we truly never lost any customers as a result, and a legitimate customer can only be re-assured that the institution he is working with is keen on dealing only with the right customers. 'So it can be practically speaking an annoyance, but it is not a threat - unless of course it is for tax considerations.' Mr Oullin said the emphasis now placed on reviewing 'know-your-customer' principles had led Barclays into extensive due-diligence investigations of its existing customers. 'This has been a benefit. One was with a client in South America - an old-established name, though we had never really appreciated the diversity of his business - and out of the exercise came a merger and acquisition opportunity for our investment bank.' Mr Oullin conceded that in Hong Kong, Barclays' private banking unit operated at a disadvantage to other large banks that ran high profile corporate or retail banking businesses, such as Citicorp and HSBC wihch each had important and extensive consumer banking networks. 'Clearly we do not have the opportunity of leveraging off such a network. But that said, we can leverage off the Barclays Capital network [the Group's wholesale banking arm which does extensive business in local loan syndication markets]. 'Barclays Capital is a provider not only of products, but an introducer of important clients,' said Mr Oullin.