The Private Banker’s Commandments

The Private Banker’s Commandments

1st Commandment: Thou shalt love and have passion for the role.

Being a private banker is not just a job or role. One needs to have loads of passion for interacting with people. If you are not a people’s person, you will surely suffocate.  There are multiple personalities that you will be exposed to, some of whom will be nice while others will stretch you. The recipe: If you are passionate about what you do and your clients, you will overcome and be very fulfilled in this role.

2nd Commandment: Thou shalt be a Private Banker for All Seasons.

Just like seasons, nothing lasts forever. Seasons come and go and life will happen to your clients also; be it   personal, business or professional.  Things have a way of happening, no matter how much we prevent or prepare ourselves for eventualities. Through the years, I have witnessed some private bankers suddenly becoming distant from clients when things turn awry. Relationship Management is not transactional but a life journey. You need to be there at all times. Unbeknown to you, you took the vow and it is for better and for worse. Mind you, you are needed the most in trying times. Be a banker for all seasons, and clients will stay with you a lifetime.

3rd Commandment: Thou shalt be a part of the client’s family.

You are not just a Relationship Manager or Private Banker; you are part of the family. You have to do everything ethical to claim your seat. Understand your clients more, his/her line of business or profession as you provide great service and you are clear on your client needs and bigger objectives. True family stays together, and members of the unit are always there for each other. No matter how bad things turn out, it is difficult to fire a family member. When you have not met your end of the bargain as the private banker, you can be easily forgiven in consideration of the good you have done in the past.

4th Commandment: Thou shalt listen more and watch more.

Knowing all the products and services that your bank offers is never enough.  Always listen and watch all your client’s moves like an eagle.  You can only transform products and services into real solutions by solving the exact problem. You can’t solve any if you are not attentive. You will only speculate and miss the mark.

5th Commandment: Thou shalt communicate, and over communicate if necessary.

A relationship where people don’t communicate never works. Communication should not be one-sided either where private banker only waits to hear from the client through a request or an instruction needing execution. If you are managing a lot of clients and it is not easy to reach out to all, put technology to good use. Your CRM system should be able to come in handy and fill in those communication gaps. For example, if you are going on leave, do not let your clients find out through an Out of Office auto response or your phone just ringing unattended. Communicate in advance or leave a note. Give them the heads up before you even take off. Direct them to an alternative contact person or a dedicated Customer Contact Centre.

6th Commandment: Thou shalt strive for equilibrium between technology and the human aspect.

We are all for digitalisation and the world over is embracing new technologies. However, technology is at our disposal to help us become more efficient and agile as mere mortals. The common denominator in Relationship Management is human connectedness. A private banker should therefore have the right balance between personally staying in touch and unleashing technology for good use. Resist the temptation of using technology for covering up your ineffectiveness or hiding behind it. Assist your clients, self-service is not the end-all and be-all.

7th Commandment: Thou shall pursue well-roundedness and thou shall never stop learning.

Here is a scenario I have witnessed over and over. I suffered from the same in my early days as a private banker. Some private bankers still choke and starting a candid conversation with a client feels like climbing Mount Everest. The only thing on their mind is the bank's products and services. You cannot be selling all the time because your clients will also get bored. Here is a prescription: Consume all sorts of information, be it current affairs, science, business, sports regulatory and governance issues. You won’t suffer an overdose.  Clients have a lot of things that interest them.  If you are clued up on a lot of things, it becomes easier to gel and share your thoughts. Information is available everywhere.

8th Commandment: Thou shalt be responsive.

Well, let’s tell the truth, you would be annoyed if your private banker does not respond to emails, texts, and does not take calls or he or she simply decides to do so when the time suits them. Clients are never seeking your attention but assistance. Be responsive. If you can’t take that call, return it immediately once you are able to do so. I have heard some private bankers being indirectly disrespectful to clients. “This client is so demanding. You don’t belong in this arena.” This is for those who are passionate about what they do and who make sure that client needs and wants are met.

9th Commandment: Thou shalt take responsibility.

You are the custodian of the relationship and there is a whole value chain supporting you. What ought to go wrong will always go wrong (Murphy’s Law). But when that happens, never tell your client that it was not your fault but IT and their system failed you. You are part of the chain. Turn the other cheek and take one for the team.  Looking out for each other is a good culture to have. Remember that it might be your fault tomorrow and you don’t want someone to nail you on the cross.

10th Commandment: Thou shalt be courteous at all times

Always remember to say “please” and “thank you.” A great private banker is one who is not an island and is always supported by the cast in the value chain. Always be courteous and grateful to those assisting you deliver excellent customer service. Without them, there is little you can do. Appreciate them at all times.


Let’s interact:


Twitter: rremanake

LinkedIn: Gomolemo Kololo Manake

Facebook: Gomolemo Kololo Manake