An overview of private banking accounts

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Private banking clients’ needs tend to be of a complex nature and normal bank accounts simply won’t do. We give a rundown of some of SA’s flagship private banking accounts.

Private banking is about more than just wielding a glossy black card. While retail banking is a one-size-fits-all solution, private banking clients’ needs tend to be of a complex nature. A case in point is access to a broader range of foreign exchange services to either invest internationally, make payments overseas, receive money from abroad or accessing foreign currency to travel.

Above all, at the core of private banking lies wealth management.

If you are in the process of accumulating a substantial amount of wealth or are already in possession thereof, private banking is centred towards protecting, consolidating and in some instances transferring that wealth, either via bequeathal or philanthropy. Most banks now even have an in-house philanthropy office dedicated to helping clients give in a sustainable way.

And, of course, what would personalised banking be without the occasional concierge-esque services such as your dedicated banker personally delivering a new debit or credit card to your home or office; or in some outlandish instances, have the banker “rush over to your office and help you out if you forgot your internet banking password” (a true anecdote from finweek’s 22 March 2012 cover story on South Africa’s elite). Common perks tend to be highly-coveted hospitality suite tickets to some of the country’s exhilarating sporting fixtures (well, before Covid-19, that is) and VIP passes to notable art, wine, whisky and other cultural events.

We give a rundown of some of SA’s flagship private banking accounts, which all come with dedicated private bankers (whom are also tasked with negotiating preferential rates for clients, including access to a myriad of specialists across various fields) and how they pit against each other in terms of fees, services, benefits and more.


Nedbank Private Wealth Bundle Account

Nedbank Private Wealth vows to understand your family, business and personal financial needs and aims to provide its clients with advice and solutions that focus on making a difference to their daily banking, wealth preservation and wealth accumulation needs. It lists transactional banking, specialised lending, investment management, fiduciary and philanthropy services among its full suite of wealth management solutions.

To become a Nedbank Private Wealth client, one must earn a personal income of more than R1.5m per annum or have investable assets with a value of at least R5m (excluding the property you live in).

Perks: Clients can enjoy travel and lifestyle benefits such as unlimited local (Bidvest) and international(LoungeKey) airport lounge access, including free travel insurance. The bundle comes with both an American Express cheque and credit card which can be delivered to branches or couriered to clients free of charge. Cardholders also have free access to Nedbank’s Greenbacks rewards programme. Nedbank Private Wealth’s app allows clients to top-up investments, buy or sell shares and purchase foreign currency, among others.


Investec Private Bank Account

The Investec Private Bank account is targeted at “distinguished individuals” that the bank intends on building a life-long partnership with, granted that they consistently earn R800 000 and more per year. Investec has been rated the best private bank and wealth manager in the country for the past eight consecutive years (PWM/ The Banker Global Private Banking Awards).

Perks: In addition to day-to-day transactional banking, the bank offers a complimentary rewards programme (Investec Rewards), travel benefits such as unlimited local (Bidvest) and international (LoungeKey) airport lounge access including travel insurance, and a digital investment platform. The principal client can get an extra card linked to their account at no extra cost or a stand-alone Private Bank Account at a reduced monthly fee for their spouse or life partner. Clients can also open an Investec Youth Account for their children (25 years and younger) for free.


Absa Private Banking Account

Absa’s Private Banking Account is described as a personal financial management tool designed to maximise your financial opportunities and meet your everyday banking needs with ease. “Our Private Banking offering for salaried individuals and self- employed professionals is available to clients with an income of R62 500 per month (gross) or R750 000 per year (gross). The offer is also available to business owners who will automatically qualify should their business turnover be in excess of R10m and the business banks with Absa,” says Bongiwe Gangeni, deputy chief executive of retail and business banking at Absa.

Perks: Gangeni tells finweek that the offering includes access to a Visa Signature credit card and automatic Absa Rewards membership. “Clients also have access to a dedicated travel and lifestyle concierge desk, domestic (Bidvest) and international (LoungeKey) airport lounges and a spousal account at a 50% reduced fee off the account (with access to the same benefits as the primary account holder).

“Other benefits include home loans of up to 100% of the value of the property. Dedicated financial advisers and fiduciary specialists are also available.”

Standard Bank

Standard Bank Signature Banking Account

The bank says it has a host of wealth management products and services through which you can manage and grow your wealth. It says you can call, email or even instant message your personal banker anytime for whatever you need. A monthly income of R92 000 or more is the minimum requirement for the Signature account.

Perks: Bespoke portfolio management is available on request from Melville Douglas, including diverse short- and long- term savings and investment options. Discounted rates are available through the online share-trading platform. You can share the benefits of Signature Banking with up to five family members for R75 per month. Account holders have access to two Standard Bank domestic lounges at OR Tambo International Airport and 900 international airport lounges. Free direct forex delivery is available in Gauteng, the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

Rand Merchant Bank

RMB Private Bank Fusion Account

RMB’s private offering and pricing is virtually identical to FNB’s Private Wealth account. One must earn a gross income of R750 000 and above per year to qualify for RMB’s; or earn more than R1.5m a year or have a net asset value of R15m or more for FNB’s.

Perks: The account offers your spouse or partner a discounted monthly fee of R269 for the same banking experience and benefits that you have, regardless of their income. There is no monthly account fee for an FNB Global Account to save and transact in foreign currency. Clients can earn additional FNB eBucks when using their cards for payments. There is some complimentary access to SLOW and Bidvest lounges, depending on reward levels.

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This article originally appeared in the 4 February edition of finweek. You can buy and download the magazine here.

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