Common Private Banker Interview Questions

Private banking qualifies as one of the most potentially lucrative and satisfying careers available within the investment banking industry and the wealth management industry at-large. Private bankers serve the needs of high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs), typically through one of the major investment banks such as JPMorgan Chase or Credit Suisse.

There are two primary occupations in the private banking area: relationship managers who serve as the primary account manager and investment professionals who do the hands-on money management of client funds. In addition to providing brokerage accounts and managed accounts for investing, private bankers also offer services that include tax, estate, and charitable donation planning.

Success in the field of private banking is largely contingent on being able to sell yourself and your firm's services to high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs). But to get into the field, you first have to be able to sell yourself in the job interview. To prepare, here are some of the typical private banker interview questions asked, as well as wealth management interview questions, and what they're getting at.

"Why Wealth Management?"

This seemingly run-of-the-mill interview question is frequently used as an opener in the interview process to gauge how you ended up in the industry in the first place. For starters, there is no perfect "why wealth management" interview answer. Rather, in this question, it is best to be genuine and talk about what attracted you to the sector, rather than the salary.

For example, you could talk about understanding the power and opportunity behind financial markets, and becoming a wealth management professional is both exciting and useful in being able to help people wisely manage their finances, which have real impacts. In addition, it's a great skill to help cultivate the dreams and steward the resources to make an impact or be able to provide for their family.

"How Do You Conduct a Credit Risk Management Assessment?"

With this question, the interviewer is looking for your ability to conduct a fundamental analysis of a client's financial position and credit risk. The proper answer is to lay out the basic steps involved in assessing an individual or firm's credit risk. The first step is to thoroughly examine the client's financial statements and evaluate them from various points of debt analysis, such as the leverage ratio, debt coverage ratio, liquidity ratio, and current ratio.

The second step is to consider the various financial metrics in conjunction with a qualitative fundamental analysis of the client's overall financial health and income or revenue prospects, along with basic economic forecasts. The client's credit history, especially with the bank, is another critical aspect to consider. All of these elements are then combined to produce a risk score using the bank's own proprietary risk rating system. Reports to aid the bank or an outside underwriter in selecting an appropriate credit product are also helpful.

"How Would You Overcome a Client's Reluctance to Work With You Because of Your Youth or Perceived Inexperience?"

For candidates in their 20s or perhaps even early 30s, this question represents the reality of the private banking clientele. The majority tend to be 50-plus years of age and may initially balk at turning over management of their wealth to some "kid." An excellent response to this type of question is being able to cite previous successful experience in working with older, wealthy clients.

Alternatively, if you cannot cite such experience, a good approach is to express your strong confidence in your ability to successfully connect with people of any age or background to the point where they feel completely confident in your ability to handle their affairs. As the person interviewing you may himself be several years your senior, the very act of answering this question well serves as a demonstration of your ability to overcome the potential age obstacle.

"If You Started Today, What Is the First Investment You Would Make and Why?"

Come to the interview prepared to give an overview and fundamental analysis of virtually any investment area and certainly, the principal sectors of equity investing or income investing. In the modern global financial environment, it is also a good idea to be prepared to compare and contrast financial markets in different regions of the world.

More specifically, you may be asked for one investment you would make right now and why. There is no one correct answer to this question. The interviewer is simply looking for evidence you are familiar with potential instruments, and he is also seeking to learn how you evaluate, pick, and choose from among the vast selection of investments available. It is simply important to have an answer ready, and more importantly, to have a good "why" for your answer. If you can answer a question like this with something a little bit more original than "Apple" or "Google," and provide a convincing, logical argument for your choice, it is an opportunity to make yourself stand out from other candidates in the interviewer's mind.