Sell Yourself Before You Sell Products: Top Private Bankers Need These Skills

Relationship managers need to master digital skills, become intimate with their clients’ values, and better tailor their bank’s investment views if they are to reach their potential in 2023. That is according to Carl Thong, group managing director at Singapore-based momenta Group, a regional training platform for private bankers. In our second article featuring Thong, who has worked with private banks in the region including UBS, BNP Paribas Wealth Management and Julius Baer, Asian Private Banker examines some essential traits for working in the modern-day industry.

Deeper Client Conversations

Effective private bankers need to be able to take their bank’s investment views and product expertise and shape these into the context of their client’s specific requirements, believes Thong. This involves having strategic conversations with clients that “go four or five layers deeper” than simply repeating the bank’s house view. “Before you talk about specific investments or trades or house views, what is the overarching investment strategy that your client would like to pursue?” Thong asked.For example, a client’s investments with a particular bank could be so-called “sleep-well” money, or it could be purely for speculative trades. Also, bankers must ascertain how their client’s day job, more specifically, the client’s “active income” weighs in on their investment strategy. To put this in perspective, would a bank’s overweight call on Apple shares mean less if your client is a Taiwanese semiconductor billionaire – meaning they are already heavily exposed to such an investment?“99% of the time the client will tell their banker what they want. But you need to coach them on what they need. What the client wants and what they need might be different,” explained Thong.

Mastery of Digital Skills

While travel restrictions imposed during COVID-19 have largely disappeared, it remains essential that a private banker has a variety of digital tools in their arsenal. “The mastery of digital skills is a necessity for a high-performance private banker in today’s age. We have no more excuses. Even my mom, who’s close to 80, uses Zoom now,” explained Thong.(Call Out Statement: “People say investment is all about numbers. That’s exactly the wrong statement. Your money is extremely emotional. And emotions are driven by our values.“)The majority of private bankers in Asia Pacific will no doubt be familiar with videoconferencing technology, but whether they are adept enough to use these tools to prospect, convert and farm clients effectively is another question. “The ability to meet somebody has been greatly changed,” he said. Private bankers must ask themselves: “How do I acquire, how do I advise, and how do I add value for clients digitally?” One part of that is how bankers use non-verbal communications when interacting with clients via digital platforms. “You have to be a little bit of a Netflix producer. You need to be able to at least demonstrate emotion, empathy and engagement,” Thong added.

Manage Your Online Presence

It is not all about Zoom, though. It is also essential in 2023 that private bankers manage their presence on social media, particularly professional platforms like LinkedIn. “Everyone has a digital presence,” Thong said. “The only question is, are you proactively managing that presence?” Thong highlighted examples of private bankers that have failed to upgrade their job titles after changing banks. “If you can’t even update your own LinkedIn, how does your client know that you’ll be diligently updating their portfolio in an appropriate way?” There have also been cases of bankers posting potentially embarrassing material online. “If you arrange a meeting with a prospect, the first thing they will do is Google you,” he continued. “There was a case where there was a photo of a private banker  drinking beer at a party. That perhaps should not be on your LinkedIn page when you’re trying to tell an HNW how to deploy $8 million.”

What are your client’s core values?

“A private banker is a very unique job, in that you are selling yourself first before you sell the bank and its products,” believes Thong. To that end, a high-performing private banker must prove that they genuinely understand what makes their clients tick: from their passions outside of the workplace, to ESG, to what is it they are trying to achieve with their wealth.“High-performance private bankers should understand what are the client’s core values,” Thong believes. “How can you engage with the client so you can understand and appreciate their values? If he grew up in a military home and he values punctuality and discipline, and you’re late to the meeting, and you’re not disciplined – you’ve lost a client.”Perhaps most pertinently, this can also be applied to ESG, which next-generation private bank clients are becoming increasingly passionate about. “People say investment is all about numbers. That’s exactly the wrong statement. Your money is extremely emotional. And emotions are driven by our values,” said Thong.

By Danial Shane | June 22, 2023