Societe Generale announces its new UK private banking brand, Kleinwort Hambros, after the acquisition of Kleinwort Benson on June 6.

The new brand sees the combination of Societe Generale Private Banking Hambros and Kleinwort Benson, and notably drops both Societe Generale and Benson from the name. The new UK focused private bank has £16bn assets under management and has offices in London, Cambridge, Newbury, Leeds, Edinburgh, Jersey, Guernsey and Gibraltar.

Societe Generale acquired the Hambros brand in 1998. Eric Barnett, CEO at Kleinwort Hambros says that Kleinwort Benson had been identified as a closely matched business for SGPB Hambros to merge with – with both businesses being based in the UK and the Channel Islands.

Kleinwort Benson has had a slew of different owners in recent times. However, Jean-Francois Mazaud, head of Societe Generale private banking, says that the bank “does not believe in short term movement”, noting Soc Gen’s commitment to the Hambros brand since 1998.


Affect on clients

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Mazaud suggests that incumbent Kleinwort Benson clients are likely to feel secure in the knowledge of being supported by the larger Societe Generale brand.

Clients will be able to take advantage of the discretionary and advisory offering of Kleinwort Benson, whilst gaining access to the structured products offering of SGPB Hambros.

Mazaud says “If you look at historical Kleinwort Benson clients moving to the Kleinwort Hambros brand, clients will have access to extended lending capabilities, international wealth planning, and access to connections within the wider Societe Generale group – so if they want to be multi banked in different jurisdictions, that’s a possibility.”

In terms of client segmentation, Kleinwort Hambros will be focusing on three areas: “privilege” – net worth of above £750,000, “core private banking” – clients up to £25m, and “the key client segment” – £25m and above.


Future plans

Barnett says growth plans will focus on regional presence as well as targeting the ultra high net worth segment:

“Regional presence will continue to play an important role in the future of the business with a focus of clients outside of London and plans to recruit new bankers in the regions. Growing the family office will also be a key priority, and Kleinwort Hambros will be looking to expand this part of the business significantly through out Europe.

“In addition, the aim for the new brand is to create a private bank that is as digital as it is physical, and it will build on its existing e-banking services, develop digital and robo-advice, whilst acknowledging the importance of the role of private bankers and strong geographical footprint.”

Barnett also hinted that there may be plans to target the lower end of the mass affluent segment through digital channels, as this strategy is particularly popular with the Kleinwort Benson team.

In terms of M&A, Barnett says that Societe Generale will be focusing on the Kleinwort Hambros brand rather than on new acquisitions.


Job cuts?

Jean-Francois Mazaud, head of Societe Generale private banking, says that there will be a slight overlap between the staff of Klienwort Benson and SGPB Hambros. However, he says that this is unlikely to affect bankers, with there being some moderate cuts on the operations side.

Mazaud adds that staff cuts will be kept to an absolute minimum as the intention is to grow the business. Mazaud also believes that consistency with bankers amongst Kleinwort Benson clients will keep the risk of attrition minimal.