The Private world of the very, very rich, part 2: banks and trust companies

Part One (please read the previous post) provides information on a variety of institutions, organizations, and other services created specifically to provide services to the Ultra-High Net-Worth, or UHNW (whether they are individuals, nuclear families, or extended families). These include: private banks, other banks with private-banking divisions, trust companies, offshore banks (including Swiss banks), and the low-profile, off-the-radar family offices. A more recent form of service is called the “multi-family office.”

It helps to know at least a little about each of these instruments in order to begin to understand the world of Ultra-High Net-Worth (UHNW) individuals.

Private banks have been around for a very long time—since the 19th century in several nations in Western Europe. According to Wikipedia, private banks have “cater[ed] only to high-net-worth individuals with liquidity over $2 million, although it is now possible to open private banking accounts with as little as $250,000 for private investors.” [Disclaimer: The Inheritance Project cannot guarantee that all information provided by Wikipedia is completely accurate.]

Other banks with private-banking divisions. In recent years many large banks accessible to the general public have opened private banks with the same kinds of restrictions as banks that are only private. Wells Fargo Private Bank is one such example; it is just one of many. In Canada, RBC and most other big banks have private banking divisions.

Both private banks and banks (in general) with private banking divisions offer a wider range of services than other banks. Wells Fargo Private Bank, for example, offers “A personalized approach, bringing together our people, philosophy, and wealth planning process to create custom-designed solutions for your most complex financial needs.”

Trust companies. One good example is Fiduciary Trust (Boston) Besides its role in creating and managing trusts, Fiduciary also offers family office services: “Fiduciary Trust was founded as a family office almost 125 years ago. We understand the complex issues that can arise in the process of setting up a family office. We will help you define your family’s mission, and develop a multifaceted financial plan. As requested, we will provide day-to-day services, such as bill paying, help organize family meetings, and assist you in the education of the next generation regarding the obligations and opportunities of wealth.” Although not advertised on its web site, Fiduciary also organizes “client meetings where the focus is investments or various issues effecting family finances such as caring for elderly parents.”

Part 3 of this series will explain the nature and role of family offices and multi-family offices.