The other private banker
22 September 2016
ING’s growing force of private bankers are winning the hearts and minds of customers across the Netherlands by using unconventional strategies. So what’s it like to be a private banker these days? Here’s Maarten Telnekes from the Netherlands Apeldoorn-Achterhoek region.
Launched this year in the Netherlands, the new approach to private banking is all about doing the right things to help wealthier customers achieve their goals.
Notice the omission of the word ‘financial’ here? This marks a break from the days when private banking was about selling financial products with the sole aim to make people’s wealth grow, as Telnekes explains.
Movers and shakers
“I’ve been at ING for 15 years now,” says Telnekes, “and I’ve seen things change. Private banking is relatively new at ING and our customers aren’t big on the traditional way of doing things – never really have been. But until recently, even we at ING were mainly in the business of putting their money to work for them, without really understanding what for.”
“Not so today. Private banking customers are increasingly the movers and shakers of society and they expect us to move and shake with them. They are willing to look beyond traditional investment if they can make a dream come true or do something meaningful for society. That calls for a private banker who can open their eyes to unconventional investment strategies – such as helping a business start-up or community project get off the ground – which better fit their goals.”
“So when I meet these customers, we don’t talk money. We talk dreams.”
Anywhere and everywhere
As personal, business and social lives become more intertwined, such discussions can take place just about anywhere. Some can take you quite by surprise, as Telnekes recalls.
“In Spring, I went cycling with a group of private banking customers and colleagues on a chilly Sunday morning. After breakfast together in Arnhem, we took off riding side by side. The idea was just to get to know people. About 20 miles into the ride, the guy next to me says, “hey, I have a cool 5 million euro on hand and was wondering what to do with it. Have any ideas?”
“I must admit I did wobble on my bike at first. But I promised to give it some thought. Maybe I could hook him up with a young entrepreneur in need of funding? When you’re a private banker at ING, you’re always a private banker no matter where.”
The right connections
Yet to make the right connections for people it helps to have or at least be able to see the right connections in the first place. Which is why private bankers at ING now work in squads with colleagues from personal banking, mortgages, SME and corporate clients.
“Many private banking customers are entrepreneurs. For them, their private life and family business are virtually inseparable. When I meet them, I often go there with one of my colleagues from SME. In the end, you cannot see where the private banking solution ends and the business solution begins.”
But ultimately, it takes more than connections. To help people stay ahead you also have to plan ahead. And they have no time for nonsense.
“We used to spend weeks working up a 60-page personal financial plan – many of which may still be collecting dust in some of the better homes of the Netherlands. Who has time to read that stuff, let alone produce it?”
So Telnekes lets ‘Forward Planning’ take care of the technical aspects. It’s a new application that was specially made for ING private bankers.
“It’s interactive, which is great for customers because they’re the kind of people who like to be in control. They get a snapshot of where they stand financially and how something like buying a second home will affect them.”
The best laid schemes…
Yet no matter how well you plan, things can still turn out unexpectedly.
“A while back I finally got a local VIP to speak at a fundraiser. I was elated when he agreed. So elated that at the end of the event I forgot to give him his present. When I called the next day to apologise, he said to pop by with the present and we got talking. Turns out we grew up in the same area. As I was about to leave, he says, ‘I’ve got something in the pipeline. Why not give me a call next week? Maybe we can do business.’”