How do you know if you need a private banker? If you thought it was just a case of being too rich and too busy to manage your own money, think again. It's a much more esoteric issue than that. 'It's a feeling,' says Enid Yip, CEO Asia, Bank Sarasin, 'When you need a private bank, you'll know. It's all about your needs, particularly for peace of mind. When your finances are getting so complex that you require assistance, you need a private bank. It's not about age or the amount of money you have. Private banking is the answer to a need for holistic wealth management.' Pride comes before a fall, it seems. No matter how competently you have run and managed your finances to date, it's folly to think you know it all, adds Yip. 'As intelligent and market-savvy as you may be, you don't have the time or inclination to deal with managing your assets, and the responsibilities they create. You probably want to dedicate more time to your business, your family, or even your golf game. At the same time, you want to know that your family and your business are in safe hands.' The best private bankers make you aware of needs you never knew you had. 'Needs which, over the longer term, you may not even have imagined. You will know that means you need someone with considerable expertise, someone who understands and anticipates your goals and can help you to reach beyond them. Someone with whom you can have a frank and confidential conversation, someone you can partner with, someone you can trust,' says Yip. 'You will appreciate that a true private banker can assist with business development, including expansion, mergers and acquisitions, and even IPOs. You will require a trusted adviser with substantial and proven expertise who can assist with delicate succession issues, including trust advisory across multiple jurisdictions.' It's not just about your needs now, private bankers are thinking about people not even born yet. Seemingly their talents even extend to family counselling, therapy and peace-making. 'You may be starting a family, or becoming a grandparent, but in either case you will require estate planning,' says Yip. 'Most will require succession planning, such that the family business is long-term legacy, and the family can avoid disputes and even financial trauma. Given the sensitivities, a private bank offers the customised solutions that you require, not just for today, but beyond.' Societe Generale Private Bank Asia Pacific takes a rather sterner approach. 'A lifetime of wealth creation can be easily destroyed within a short time,' the bank warns. 'The Asian Financial Crisis in 1997; the dot-com bubble in 2000, and most recently the global financial crisis in 2008 taught us the value of a disciplined investment process.' But beware shark-infested waters. Many investors have also lost their shirts with the rising number of accounting and financial frauds, evidenced by recent events such as Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme, the bank cautions. Hence the need for a stringent and careful selection of a private bank, to ensure wealth protection for future generations. 'Failing to plan is a plan to fail', they point out. 'Careful and thorough planning processes ensure wealth creation and wealth preservation,' they add. 'With the help of a private bank, clients can continue to focus on growing their core businesses or enjoy the fruits of their labour by spending their precious time with their loved ones, while leaving the challenging and stressful decision of investments to the private bankers,' says Societe Generale. If you do decide you need a private banker, UBS has some down-to-earth advice. 'Ask yourself: does he give me access to the whole bank, not only investment departments, but all kinds of investment products. This means not only shares and bonds, but also hedge funds, real estate funds, commodities, private equity, plus succession planning, tax planning, credits, the investment bank, if available, family governance, the art department, even the wine department, says a senior private banker with that institution.