Private Banker International’s European round table road show moved on from Warsaw last month to tech-savvy Stockholm. More than 12 industry leaders gathered to examine the latest changes in the fast-paced private banking arena.

Hosted by Private Banker International and supported by Ortec Finance, the discussion examined client-centred and goal-based financial planning, as well as how Sweden is positioned in regards to the newly implemented regulations in the industry.

Inspired by an insightful presentation on digital transformation conducted by PwC, PBI led the lively discussion surrounding digital innovations in the private banking and wealth management environment and the implications it has had in the role of RMs and business models.

Roundtable attendees

Christopher Heybroek

Head of Sales Private Banking, Erik Penser Bankaktiebolag

Joel Gronberg

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Head of Institutional Asset Management and Consulting, Söderberg & Partners

Lars Uppsäll

Chief operating officer, Burenstam & Partners

Tove Bangstad

Managing director, Nordics at Credit Suisse

Pehr Petersson

Risk manager, TF Bank

Sixten Eriksson

Director, Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management

Niklas Anckarman

Head of financial planning

Robert Tylestedt

Wealth manager, Skagen Funds

Sofia Hedberg

Wealth manager, Skagen Funds

Markus Lund

Director, UBS

Fredrik Ronngren

Senior wealth manager, Coeli

Erik Kim

Co-Head of wealth management, UBS

Janek Moik

RM, Credit Suisse

Iwan Schafthuizen

Managing director business development

Ton Kentgens

Global business development, Ortec Finance

Kenny van Ierlant

Senior director advisory, Pwc


Private Banker International: Internally, within your organisations is there a view on digital transformation as it affects Private Banks and Wealth Managers? Is that something that is on the table for discussion at the moment?

Ronngren: Definitely, constantly. It has been for five years and I think we are looking at a situation where it’s actually becoming a higher and higher priority on an executive level. We are trying to take it from the relatively low levels that we’ve been at for the past 10 years and trying to achieve something that is more like what we are doing with our IT, that is what we used to be with banking and transforming our businesses into something else. But it is not going fast enough.

Moik: I think there is a lot of information out there on digital. If you are talking about a product, what makes you different, A or B or C?Why are you better?

Kentgens: And also, how well you know your client and find the best asset allocation? Are the RMs really fit for it? Are they ready for this shift? I think that, finally, you are adding value to the personal contact with clients.

Bangstad: I think our RMs are really good, especially if they are working within family offices. They have had the same clients for many years so they really know the clients and the family, everything. But, of course, if you are new in that area, it is quite difficult. You might think the senior private bankers would suffer the most from the digital shift. I don’t think so; I think it is the opposite, because they know their clients so well.


Private Banker International: What’s the inhibitor to change?

Ronngren: I think it is a matter of figures, and the risk of investing in the wrong stuff pretty much, because technology is going too fast. You don’t really know what is going to happen tomorrow. I think that is part fear and partly a lack of knowledge.

Moik: The big banks have the big budgets of course. But is it right to say ‘Ok, we are going to put 2-3 billion $’s for IT?" So, are you moving fast enough?


Private Banker International: In the market place is there any particular bank you can look to as a kind of a benchmark? Someone who is leading in the advanced guard of this change in Sweden?

Ronngren: Platform-wise, yes. Nordnet and Avanza, for example. They are doing something different actually. They’re working with clients that want to take on their own business, clients that want to find their own information and trade on it in their own way. I think the platforms themselves are a lot more versatile and dynamic than the ones that we have seen before at Credit Suisse, or UBS, Nordea, or whoever it might be. So, I think it’s a matter of whose platform is emerging and adapting to the future and at the fastest pace. So, those two are on the top of my list.

Moik: As a target group, they want to capture the high net worth more than the Ultras.

Bangstad: At Avanza, or for example, SEB, what private bankers are doing is combining the whole private banking within the new entire set up. It is a combination. It is not really moving it away from the old way.

Ronngren: Not at all. I mean, they’re probably moving towards a more personal service. But I think that is evolving. We are seeing some of the services that were there for the Ultras, back 5-10 years ago being included into a situation that we are finding even in the HNW, so it is working its way down. I think it is a matter of not making enough profit on the UHNW clients anymore, so you have to work yourway down.

Bangstad: Actually, I think it is easier for smaller players to provide these new tools to their clients. Because in the larger banks the IT system are in such a mess and it is very difficult to build something new and it is very costly. But if you are a smaller player everything is brand new in a way and it is easier to add something and it is also much cheaper. It can be quick enough, because it doesn’t affect the whole system.


Private Banker International: Where do we see the opportunity around digital and technology? Is it a differentiator?

Gronenberg: For us technology is not a differentiator. Technology needs to be either the enabler or to enable the advisor to work friction-less. You should have as little friction as possible to work with these clients.

Ankarman: I think it depends on the segment. Further down the segmentation it’s a cost service issue to a large extent and customer driven, so it is a combination. Of course with HNW and Ultra, we see customers’ request coming in, and I think you have to be both. It is always having a great service in the physical environment but the requirement should come in the short time period. I don’t know if it is part of the generation shift, so for this top segment it’s not just cost of service.

Schafthuizen: You have to be efficient in order to compete. You have to show your added value as a company and you have to do it in a cost effective way so, there is really a need to do so.

Uppsäll: I think technology is an opportunity to make something better for the customer. The big wave of information that the customer has today, make it a bigger opportunity for us because it is more difficult for customers to buy these services today because you have too much information.

Moik: You also need to filter the information properly, according to what customers want.


Private Banker International: Is it more about not selling the product anymore, but services. Anyone want to comment on that?

Ronngren: I think it is all about the strategy and maintaining a long term relationship with the client. It doesn’t really matter if it is personal, or it is platform-based. But just trying to stay within the frames of the strategy meaning to take it to their financial goals, and that’s getting more and more important. Talking about products, it’s been the subject over the past 3-4 years, it is getting more difficult to build a portfolio out of specific products because it is not about that, it is about versatility and you have to be able to adapt your portfolio over time on a daily, weekly, monthly basis and so be able to get the results that the client is looking for. I’d say it is all about the personal relationships and the platform combination and the ability to find the information for the client and make it easier for them to handle it.

Bangstad: What we see in Sweden from the large banks is that they are hitting on external funds and taking everything in-house.

Ronngren: It is also about regulatory and compliance matters. It is all about transparency and how you train your client’s portfolio, and if you charge your clients with costs, or if it costs more than you are actually declaring. And that’s the big reason of the change of the situation we are looking at.


Private Banker International: As regulation increases, how are Swedish private banks adapting to a more rigid regulatory regime?

Anckarman: First of all it depends on how much you invest to handle that kind of regulation, but it is actually cleaning up a lot of stuff while fixing it.

Ronngren: The number of players has been reduced, so you’re actually getting a lot more ‘overlookable’ markets as a client, which is exactly what you are looking for. So as long as you are large enough, or your margins are high enough to stay in the market, regulation is probably a good thing for clients. If you are not able to do that because of your size, maybe you are not supposed to be in the market.

Bangstad: I think with all these new regulations it is very difficult for smaller banks. I actually don’t think this is really good news for the client though, especially because there is less choice and the cost to comply is higher for smaller players. When authorities put new regulations in place, they do it with very good intentions, but they don’t really see a bit further on. What this actually means to larger or smaller firms? What would really be the impact? For instance, with this retrocession ban, it is not really good for the client, in a way.

Schafthuizen: I fully agree, because what we experience in the Netherlands, but also in the UK, is that clients are not so happy with all the regulations because the fees have increased quite a lot. So, what’s the added value of this regulation? Basically, there is an over regulation. This is what we are experiencing from the clients’ side but also from the private banking side.

Uppsäll: In the last couple of years the focus among competition has been on regulations and admin and not really on customer’s needs.

Ronngren: If you’re trading on an older platform, you should still be able to find the measures to diversify your portfolio. As a wealth manager, you should be able to give the clients the right platform to trade whatever they want. If it is an open platform and if you’re able to do everything, and find everything that is on the market and is compliant and you’re able to build portfolios in a system like this, I wouldn’t say it is a negative environment for clients at the moment.

Gronberg: For several firms in Sweden, the regulators drive more to who is best adapted to the standard and therefore most costless standard in the market to give advice. Most of us on the table can adapt to that.


Private Banker International: To what extent do you think regulation has changed your business models over the last 5 years? Is there a large focus on transparency? Or perhaps there is a shift in discretionary advisory services?

Moik: Advisory is becoming too expensive. We are servicing clients starting from 1 million euro. We say, if you are smaller, ‘sorry but you are too expensive’. We wouldn’t let them in. And that’s regulatory.

Schafthuizen: What we are experiencing in Europe is the move from advisory towards discretionary management. But also the number of titles in the portfolio, the master list, is decreasing because it is too expensive and you can’t focus on 20,000 titles in your master lists, for example. What’s the added value? You can’t focus on all those titles.

Moik: We have 80 in our master list, for regulatory reasons, of course. You have to bring it down and simplify it, and then you have the Ultra clients and you do everything that is out there, but that starts from 50 million.


Private Banker International will be in Frankfurt on the 22nd May to continue the debate.
To participate in the discussion please email