VP Bank – A Boutique Bank on the Move

By Paul Joseph

The financial sector is undergoing profound change. Clients’ needs are shifting and there is an increasing pressure on banks to meet their expectations. But how does this affect clients when choosing their private banking partner?

The consolidation within the banking industry seems to lead to globally acting financial groups. Although there is no blueprint for the successful election of an ideal private banking partner, Christoph Mauchle, Member of the Group Executive Management and Head Client Business at Liechtenstein-based private bank VP Bank, is convinced that anyone looking for personalised solutions and a long-term partnership will hit the bull's eye with a boutique-style private bank.

While market consolidation leads to the growing importance of large banking groups, an increasing number of private banking clients is looking for exactly the opposite — a relationship with a smaller financial institution. How do you explain this contradiction?

Private Banking is a relationship business that builds on the professional skills and social competence of the client advisors involved. The combination of these capabilities enables advisors to comprehensively identify and understand individual client requirements. To convert these into a personalised service offering is a decisive strength of successful private banks.

What is VP Bank’s formula for success?

We focus on our key competencies and a more personal approach. We are pleased to note that a growing number of clients are looking for smaller private banks with a boutique approach.

How do you assess certain presumed advantages of larger banks, for example economies of scale, networks or global presence?

For us, the decisive factor is not how many locations an institute has world-wide, but rather at which locations it is present. VP Bank Group relies on established financial centres such as Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Luxembourg, the British Virgin Islands, Singapore, Hong Kong and Russia. In addition, we have a global partnership network that supports our client advisors with excellent international know-how. VP Bank is thus large enough to be able to provide the desired services with first-class quality, yet small enough to maintain personal, relationship-oriented dialogue with our clients.

How does the client relationship of a smaller bank differ from that of large financial groups?

Demanding clients are looking for specialists who focus on selected areas and thus offer convincing expertise. Boutique-style private banks, such as VP Bank, offer tailor-made solutions and first-class personal service and are able to provide significantly more personalised services. Being very flexible and agile, smaller private banks can quickly adapt to changing client needs or new developments in the business or regulatory environment. At the same time, we face fewer potential conflicts of interest. As an independent market player, we have access to a product universe that is not only on a par with the offering of major players, but superior in many respects. Thanks to the worldwide co-operation with renowned partners, our clients receive solutions that fit their needs perfectly.

Is there any special VP Bank philosophy regarding your client relationship?

For us, the advisory process basically comprises four steps: Understanding — Consulting — Implementing — Accompanying. Along these four steps we are working with our clients to successfully implement their investment objectives. Each step requires attention, endurance, and emotional intelligence of our advisors. At VP Bank, we are aware of this and place more emphasis on combining the individual and special features of every client with our tailor-made solutions for asset management, investment consulting and wealth planning.

Clients nowadays expect digital access to their bank and automated banking solutions. How do you connect the online and offline world?

Probably one of the biggest mistakes banks can commit is glorifying the digitisation. Of course, VP Bank has recognised the signs of the times and is investing in specific digital solutions that make the lives of our clients easier. At the same time, we are working intensively on linking digital platforms and personal advice. We are convinced that the success model of the future will be a combination of automated services and personal advice. This so-called "hybrid advisory" combines the advantages of digital solutions with the experience and the knowledge of our human client advisors.

What is the motivation that makes boutique banks employees go the extra mile to satisfy demanding clients’ needs?

The strong focus on client needs across all organisational and hierarchical levels is undoubtedly one of the greatest strengths of the boutique approach: All our employees are fully committed and act in the same vein. This is also reflected in the design of the work environment and the working climate, characterised by a familiar atmosphere as well as a high degree of individuality and freedom of choice. Communication in the company and teamwork are important success factors. And finally, we work within an entrepreneurially-minded framework featuring flat hierarchies, short decision-making processes and proximity to top management.

In view of the ongoing consolidation process, stability is a success factor. One of the questions to be asked when choosing a private banking partner is: Will the bank still be there in the future?

Indeed, this is an important consideration, especially for those clients who are looking for a long-term partner. It is the smaller private banks in particular that are convincing in terms of stability and financial strength. Take VP Bank as an example: For more than 60 years, we have been a reliable banking partner for clients who are looking for individuality and value security. Our impressive financial strength has formed the necessary foundation for our exciting development.

VP Bank claims to be “Safely ahead”. Can you specify what is meant by this?

In short, VP Bank is what clients today expect from their banking partners: Being large, where it helps, but small and agile, where it counts. This approach is reflected in our core message "Safely ahead”, which condenses the bank's position in two words. We keep an eye on the changes as they emerge and use them to our best advantage.

By Paul Joseph