The Private Banking Top 10 List

High-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) tend to have more complex financial needs than most retail consumers. These are people with assets that can easily be liquidated. While there's no consensus about how much a person needs to qualify in this category, it's safe to assume that you'd need at least $1 million. Charles Schwab, though, says you need at least $2.3 million to be called wealthy.

Regardless of how much they hold, HNWIs often turn to private banks to meet their financial needs. These financial institutions offer a range of services under one roof, from investment management to trust and estate planning. Wealthy clients are typically assigned a dedicated private banker or relationship manager. This professional becomes the single point of contact for all of their financial matters.

This article analyzes details of some of the world's largest private banks. The following list is comprised of the most prominent private bankers, according to global financial data provider Private Banker International. Most of these names may sound familiar as they also offer banking services for the general public. The banks are ordered according to the list's ranking, but each institution's assets under management (AUM) are updated as of the end of 2020.

Key Takeaways

  • Private banking caters to high-net-worth individuals with at least $1 million in liquid assets.
  • Many private banks also have a strong consumer and retail banking presence in addition to divisions that cater to high-net-worth individuals.
  • Wealthy individuals with large deposits get white-glove services for their financial needs.
  • Investment advice, taxes, and estate planning are among the services offered to these clients.

Raymond James

  • AUM: $153.1 billion
  • Headquarters: St. Petersburg, Florida
  • Established: 1962

Raymond James was founded in 1962 by Bob James and went public, listing on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in 1983.

Based in Florida, Raymond James is a full-service investment dealer. It has operations in Canada, the United States, and abroad, employing more than 8,200 financial professionals. The company offers a wide range of financial and investment services, serving both institutional and retail investors, including HNWIs.

Julius Baer

  • AUM: $475 billion
  • Headquarters: Zurich, Switzerland
  • Established: 1890

Although it's not a household name, Julius Baer is one of the leading wealth management firms in Switzerland. Its focus is to provide advisory services to private clients through high-end services. The firm's strategy is built on three main principles:

  • Best-in-class client experience
  • A solid reputation
  • Sustainable profitability

The bank has a presence in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America.

Goldman Sachs

  • AUM: $2.15 trillion
  • Headquarters: New York
  • Established: 1869

Goldman Sachs is one of the world's leading banking firms. It provides a range of financial services to government, corporate, retail, and investment clients, including:

The firm also services high-net-worth clients. Customers are generally required to invest at least $10 million to open an account with its private wealth management division.

BNP Paribas

  • AUM: $470 billion
  • Headquarters: Paris
  • Established: 1848

BNP Paribas is an international banking group that was formed in the mid-1800s. It operates in 68 different regions around the world and employs almost 194,000 people. The company's services include wealth management, investment services, corporate banking, retail banking, payment services, and asset management. It boasts more than 33 million clients in its global retail banking operations and another 27 million in its personal finance division.

The United States and Europe are home to most of the world's largest private banking operations.

Citigroup

  • AUM: $2.26 trillion
  • Headquarters: New York
  • Established: 1998

Citi is another leading global financial service institution based in New York. Although the bank's roots date back to the 1800s, the institution's latest iteration was established in the late 1990s. Like others in this list, Citi works with government, corporate, institutional, and retail clients in the Asia Pacific region, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and North America.

In addition to private wealth management, Citi's other divisions include consumer banking, small business services, investment management and advisement, lending, and payment services, among others. By providing clients with these services, it helps achieve its goal of economic growth and progress.

JPMorgan Chase

  • AUM: $2.7 trillion
  • Headquarters: New York
  • Established: 2000

JPMorgan was one of the first banks to tailor its investment advice to the wealthy and was one of the first operations to hire a dedicated chief investment officer (CIO) for its private banking desk. The U.S. bank offers an integrated client coverage model that comprises bankers, investment professionals, capital advisors, and fiduciary managers. Global operations span 100 countries, reaching corporate, individual, and government clients.

Credit Suisse

  • AUM: CHF 1.5 Trillion
  • Headquarters: Zurich, Switzerland
  • Established: 1856

More than 48,000 individuals work for Credit Suisse in both mature and emerging markets. The bank operates three different divisions that are regionally focused:

  • Swiss Universal Bank
  • International Wealth Management
  • Asia Pacific

In addition to its investment banking presence, Credit Suisse's private bank's wealth management services continue to help the institution win significant market share in the flourishing Asia-Pacific region.

Bank of America

  • AUM: $1.4 trillion
  • Headquarters: New York
  • Established: 1930

Previously known as Bank of America Merrill Lynch, the bank now operates exclusively as Bank of America. It operates banking, investing, and wealth and asset management services among others. Clients include personal, corporate, institutional, and government agencies. It has a global reach in 35 countries, with about 66 million customers in the United States alone.

Morgan Stanley

  • AUM: $781 billion 
  • Headquarters: New York
  • Established: 1931

At Morgan Stanley, a private wealth advisor functions as the gateway to a broad team of experts, including investment bankers, capital market professionals, and private bankers, who collectively handle a spectrum of needs including trust and estate planning and insurance products. The bank has operations in 41 countries, which benefit from its banking and investment services, along with its research and trading products.

UBS

  • AUM: $1.1 trillion 
  • Headquarters: Zurich, Switzerland
  • Established: 1862

UBS consistently ranks among one of the world's largest private banks. The bank's divisions include global wealth management, corporate and consumer banking, asset management, and investment banking. The firm consolidated its U.S. wealth management unit with its international operation in an effort to bolster its position as the industry leader.

The Bottom Line

Demand for highly personalized banking services and one-stop shopping has been a boon to the private banking industry, especially because of demand from people with a high net worth. The banks on this list are not only among the world's most well-known, but they're also the ones with the highest assets under management. Headquartered in the U.S. and Europe, they enjoy a disproportionate share of that growth.