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The Warsaw Voice » Business » September 30, 2009
Finance
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Noble Bank-Master of Private Banking
September 30, 2009   
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Along with economic expansion and the growing capitalization of listed firms, the number of wealthy individuals has increased. Currently almost 15,000 Poles have assets exceeding zl.1 million. Individuals such as these want the bank where they keep their money to be solid, dependable, discreet and friendly. Noble Bank, Poland's first private bank, fulfills these requirements, offering its clients the highest class of private banking services.

More wealthy Poles
Among the already sizable group of wealthy individuals in Poland, there is an elite club with assets worth zl.15 million. According to a spring 2006 Forbes league table, the wealthiest man in Poland is Zygmunt Solorz-›ak, with assets worth an estimated zl.6.2 billion. The combined assets of the 10 wealthiest Poles are worth zl.30 billion, up from zl.21.8 billion a year earlier. Three Poles made it onto the global list of 793 billionaires compiled by the U.S. edition of Forbes. These are Solorz-›ak, Jan Kulczyk, and Leszek Czarnecki. Solorz-›ak is number 382 on the world list.

Customer focus
In the early 1990s, private banking was relatively unknown in Poland. Bank Handlowy was the first to introduce such services, followed by BRE and other banks. Noble Bank sharply focuses on such services, due to the fact that it has only wealthy clients; all of them are private banking customers.

Noble Bank offers a "concierge" service, a superior level of private banking, whereby client care is taken to the highest level. "Concierge" deals with an extremely wide range of assistance in all areas of life-from helping to make clients' dreams come true to handling any and all formalities.

While private banking services mean exceptional customer care, including the assistance of specially designated bankers in separate rooms, "concierge" services deal with tasks that are wider in scope and significantly more complicated. More than financial services meeting the highest international standards, these services deal with the client and his or her needs, including personal wishes. As Noble Bank values the time of its clients, it has achieved the highest level of expertise in offering both private banking and "concierge" services.

Mass or elite
Other than high-level "concierge" services, the range of private banking services in Poland is not broad enough. Polish private banking can be divided into two segments: elite-for clients with assets exceeding 300,000 euros, and mass private banking-for those earning over zl.5,000 per month. According to consulting firm Ernst & Young, the number of clients classifiable as elite (High Net Worth Individuals and Premium Affluent) number approximately 20,000-25,000. The remaining number of clients using mass private banking (Core Affluent and Mass Affluent) ranges from 475,000 to 600,000. With each passing year, the services that banks offer are increasingly diverse. Currently, private banking offers individually negotiated terms of deposit accounts and loans, modern structured products, investment funds, policies, prestige bank cards, and many other options that are unavailable to retail banking customers. Organizational matters are constantly being improved and financial advisors undergo ongoing training.

Domestic criteria
In light of an increase in the wealth of Polish bank customers, a process of client segmentation has been visible recently. This leads to various entry thresholds. The most commonly used criteria for accepting private banking customers are:
- Value of financial assets
- Monthly income
A bank may also accept as a client an individual who, lacking the necessary financial assets, possesses real estate. Such a situation would involve individual negotiation between the bank and customer.

In order to take advantage of Noble Bank private banking, a minimum of zl.200,000 must be available. Most Polish banks require financial assets of zl.200,000-500,000.

Criteria around the world
Credit Suisse will manage assets of at least 500,000 Swiss francs. For the most discerning clients, a minimum threshold of CHF 5 million must be reached. Britain's HSBC offers wealth management for those who have invested a minimum of £1 million. Merrill Lynch Global Private Client will accept as a client individuals investing at least $3 million. World leader UBS requires at least 500,000 euros. In order to become a Barclays Private Bank customer, one must possess at least £500,000. The Royal Bank of Canada requires at least 1 million Canadian dollars. As we can see, these banks require a much higher minimum, as incomes in these countries are decidedly higher than in Poland. These banks are able to offer a wider range of services as well as a higher quality of customer service. One can only assume that thresholds in Polish banks will also rise with time. Also to be expected is a further segmentation of clients in the financial services area.
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