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Do you know the difference between private banking and wealth management? If not, that’s OK. Many people don’t understand the difference — or even recognize that there is a difference at all.

In this article, we’ll break down:

  • the key differences between private banking and wealth management
  • the pros and cons of both, and
  • who should utilize which service

By the end of this article, you’ll have a much better understanding of the differences in private banking vs. private wealth management. Ultimately, that can help you decide which of these services is right for you.

Words to Know: Assets Under Management & HNWIs

Two terms that often arise when discussing private banking and wealth management are assets under management and high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs).

Typically, when people talk about assets under management (AUM), they’re referring to the total market value of investments managed by a financial institution on behalf of their clients. Specific assets may include:

  • stocks
  • bonds
  • mutual funds
  • exchange-traded funds (ETF’s)
  • hedge funds
  • private equity
  • real estate
  • commodities, and more

People who have a net worth of over $1 million are referred to as HNWIs. There is a subgroup within this category: ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs). Exact definitions of UHNWIs vary, but Investopedia suggests a lower limit of a $30 million net worth.

HNWIs and especially UHNWIs tend to have more complex financial portfolios. Effective management of those portfolios requires more sophisticated planning than does the average person’s portfolio. This is where the foundational demand for private banking and wealth management come from.

The Quick Truth about Private Banking & Wealth Management

We’re about to dive into the differences between private banking and wealth management. However, know that there is a great deal of overlap between the two services.

What Is Private Banking?

Private banking is a financial service provided by banks for individuals with a net worth over $1 million. This suite of services can be seen as the white-glove, high-touch service level of banking.

Private banking, at its core, remains focused on the transactional elements of banking. These include foundational processes like deposits, lending, and other traditional banking services. In addition to offering these transactional services, private banking clients may be provided services such as:

  • personalized service from a dedicated banker;
  • access to prime rates*, higher APYs**, discounted or waived fees, and customized product offerings;
  • direct assistance or introductions to professionals who can assist with broader financial needs;
  • offer access to unique investment opportunities and preferential terms on loans

Private banking is offered primarily to affluent individuals and brings a concierge-like feel to banking. Banks generally want to attract clients with significant assets, so they go the extra mile in providing service and support through private banking.

As always, we have to consider the pros and cons. Private banking can be fantastic, but not all that glitters is gold.

Potential pros of private banking

Dedicated service. As a private banking client, you’ll be assigned a dedicated banker. This individual will get to know you and your financial goals. Having that confidant can be helpful if you would rather not manage your finances on your own or appreciate the opportunity to benefit from their insight.

Preferred treatment. Private banks often offer their clients preferential treatment regarding loan terms, interest rates, and access to unique investment opportunities.

Ease and Access. One of the biggest perks of private banking is the level of convenience and access it provides. Having your investment, insurance, and tax planning all under one roof makes communication a breeze.

Potential cons of private banking

High minimums. To qualify for private banking services, you usually need a high net worth and liquidity for investment options, often with high minimum deposits.

Generalist experience. Generally speaking, many of the bankers who offer private banking services are generalists in financial matters. They may be exceptionally well- versed in the ordinary, day-to-day processes of baking. But, let’s face it, finances are rarely ordinary. You might be better off working with a specialist in the areas that are most important to you.

Fees. Private banking services often have higher fees than traditional banking products, quickly eating into your returns. Make sure you understand the fees associated with any private banking services before committing to them.

Lack of Flexibility. When you utilize private banking services, you often lose the opportunity to pursue opportunities outside of that bank’s operations. When a particular fund or product isn’t available through the bank, you may need to settle for an accessible alternative.

Examples of Private Banks

There are two primary approaches to private banking.

First, some banks work with the general population and assist HNWIs with high-level private banking services. These are main street banks that don’t cater specifically to wealthy individuals. However, when they identify a customer has a sizable net worth, the bank may introduce them to the benefits of private banking. These are brands like Chase Private Client or Bank of America Private Bank.

The second approach to private banking would be the Goldman Sachs of the world. These private banks cater exclusively to affluent individuals. They do not manage accounts or assets for people who cannot meet their minimum deposit requirements.

What Is Wealth Management?

Private banking services are typically only available to high-net-worth individuals. However, wealth management eligibility will be determined by several factors, such as total assets under management (AUM).

Theoretically, anyone with investable assets can qualify for wealth management. Generally speaking, wealth management services are more valuable for anyone with investable assets of $250,000 or more. It is considered the more advanced option when weighing investment advisor services.

At its core, wealth management is about helping people grow and protect their assets. What services you’ll receive will vary from one wealth management firm to another. That’s by design, as these firms tend to have a strong foundation in the general nature of wealth management along with special areas of deep expertise.

However, you’ll usually have a wealth manager who gets to know you and your investment goals and strategies over time. This is your point person.

In addition to helping you with your general money management, they can also coordinate with other professionals in your network. Or, they may work with financial professionals employed by the firm itself to provide services such as:

Additional services such as philanthropy planning, family office services, and Medicare planning may also be available depending on the wealth manager. How beneficial these services are for you will primarily be based on your unique financial needs and goals.

In the big picture, the private banker vs wealth manager distinction isn’t too difficult to understand. Wealth managers tend to focus on growing and protecting your assets, ideally with a holistic approach. Private bankers are more focused on traditional banking services that are tailored to the needs of their HNWI clients.

What wealth management advisors can and cannot do

There are some important limitations on what wealth management advisors can do. For example, they cannot:

  • guarantee any results
  • provide legal services or advice without a license to practice law
  • perform accounting duties
  • act as a depository or provide transactional banking services

What they can do:

  • help you create a plan to reach your financial goals
  • build a balanced and diversified portfolio
  • coordinate with other professionals to provide a well-rounded suite of services
  • stay aware of market trends and news
  • monitor strategies and progress toward financial goals

What services do wealth managers offer?

The services offered by wealth managers will vary based on the firm, but they typically include:

Investment management. This is the primary service provided by private wealth management professionals. They strive to help you grow your assets and protect your investments through various investment strategies.

Financial planning. Wealth managers can help you plan for your short-term and long-term financial goals. Areas of financial planning they assist with may include budgeting, retirement planning, estate planning, and more.

Tax planning. Minimize your tax liability through various strategies that can be employed by and between your financial and tax advisor.

Insurance consulting. An experienced wealth manager will understand the marketplace’s different insurance products and services. From short and long-term disability to financial products, they can help you identify the insurance solutions you need to protect your assets and loved ones.

Estate planning. Wealth managers and tax professionals can help you plan for the distribution of your assets after your death.

Philanthropy planning. Wealth management professionals can help you plan for charitable giving during your lifetime and after your passing. They can help to maximize the impact of your donations and secure tax advantages from them as well.

Family office services. Wealth managers can provide various services to families with complex financial needs, such as bill paying, estate administration, and more.

Medicare planning. Some experienced wealth managers can help you plan for the financial element of your health care needs as you age.

Who should use wealth management services?

Wealth management services are most beneficial for anyone with $250,000 or more in investable assets. However, wealth managers can customize services to meet your unique needs and goals.

If you’re not sure if wealth management or private banking is better for you, it’s a good idea to have some conversations.

First, speak with a financial advisor at a wealth management firm to get more information. Then, talk with a banker about their private banking offerings. Compare what each offers and the priorities of each time of service.

The best way to determine the value difference between wealth management vs private banking is to speak with the professionals that offer each. This first-hand experience can help you make an informed decision.

We believe it is crucial to entrust your financial success to specialists who have the experience and expertise to help you grow and protect your wealth. The most important thing is that you do your due diligence. Ultimately, you want to find the services that will guide you toward your financial goals with confidence.

Private Banking vs. Wealth Management: Which Service Does What?

There are some key differences to be aware of when it comes to private banking vs. wealth management. Private banks typically focus on deposit-taking, lending, and other traditional banking services. Wealth management, on the other hand, is a broad term that can encompass everything from investment management to financial or estate planning and more.

Private wealth management vs. investment banking

Let’s clear up one more common question related to these types of financial services: What is wealth management vs. investment banking?

We know that wealth management is a wide-ranging discipline centered on growing and protecting client assets. Investment banking, in its standard definition, is a type of banking used by organizations to raise capital and access specialized advice for detailed and involved business transactions.

The good news is that investment banking is not a common need for individuals, even those with a high net worth. Most HNWIs don’t need to use the services of investment banks in their personal financial lives.

Simultaneous private banking and wealth management

If you’re considering private banking vs. wealth management, there is no reason you can’t consider utilizing both services, even simultaneously. These services can complement each other when they’re used effectively. In other words, you don’t have to only choose private banking or wealth management as you build your financial strategy.

While wealth management and private banking can offer financial planning services, private bankers typically do not provide the comprehensive suite of services that wealth managers do.

Wealth management professionals are better suited to help you plan for your financial future because they have a more holistic approach that considers all aspects of your financial life. However, it’s very convenient to be able to discuss money management and investment strategies when you are at the bank managing your money.

Takeaway: Private Banking vs. Wealth Management

Wealth management and private banking services deliver convenience and opportunity to the affluent. Their specific goals, and the services they provide, are distinct.

Private banking centers on traditional banking services geared toward clients with a high net worth. Wealth management’s high-level objective is to protect and grow your assets in line with your needs and goals, both now and in the future.

When deciding which is best for you, it’s essential to consider those personal needs and goals.

Private banking could be a good fit if you’re primarily interested in traditional banking services like deposits and loans. If you’re looking for someone to help you manage your investments and grow your wealth, wealth management may be the way to go.

Discover the benefits of wealth management with a free assessment with Dechtman Wealth Management. Schedule your free, no-obligation 15-minute phone call, and we’ll help set you on a path for success.

*Prime rates are the interest rates at which banks lend to customers with good credit

**APY (annual percentage yield) is the real rate of return earned on an investment

Important Disclosure Information

Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results.  Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by Dechtman Wealth Management, LLC [“DWM”]), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this blog will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful.  Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions.  Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this blog serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from DWM. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing. DWM is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the blog content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of the DWM’s current written disclosure Brochure discussing our advisory services and fees is available for review upon request or at

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Sam Dechtman

As a wealth advisor at Dechtman Wealth Management, Sam is committed to always doing what is best for the client. Sam began his career working at large international asset manager in Chicago assisting clients with investment analysis, portfolio construction, and retirement income strategies. During that time, Sam would receive the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation, signaling mastery in all areas of financial planning.