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Every major bank has one – a Private Client Group. A group of bankers dedicated to YOU. Someone that is there at your beck and call. Someone that has been in the game for decades and is there to provide you with a wealth of knowledge about your banking needs and provide advice on what solutions make the most sense for you. That’s peace of mind that will help you sleep at night. That’s a bank that cares. Awwww.
**jerk off motion**
The Private Client Group typically has some sort of requirements to be eligible to participate in their programs. It usually has to do with how much money you keep in the bank, how much money you make, or a combination of the two. The banks believe that since you already keep $250k+ with them, you already like them and are more prone to buy additional products and services from them. But they needed a hook…something to make you feel special. Thus, the Private Client Group was born.
The Private Client Group (or PCG) is, more or less, a load of crap. These individuals scream personalized customization from the rooftops, but the products they offer are very much in line with the products every other Tom, Dick and Harry has access to. Oh, you know your banker’s name and phone number? YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT INFORMATION – THIS IS YOUR MONEY WE’RE TALKING ABOUT! If you don’t have a go-to contact to solve any problems you have with your bank, then you aren’t doing it right. More on that later in this series.
One thing to be wary of with the PCG are the bankers themselves. You think you’re getting some super high end finance guru but the honest truth? The honest truth is this individual is in this position because he or she is just really good at selling retirement/wealth/investing products. That’s it. The PCG banker was typically a personal banker or a branch manager a few months ago and knocked it out of the park in positioning and selling a specific product set. They were so good, the bank decided to give them an extra $8k a year to be a PCG banker and solely focus on these products and nothing else. Remember that when you’re rolling your 401k over into a new IRA with them.
Now I won’t just completely poo-poo the PCG. Depending on how you bank and use your money, you might actually find some value in working with them. Typically, these programs will actually offer little perks like free wire transfers, 25 basis points of your home equity line of credit or no annual fee for specific credit cards. If you do a lot of wire transfers, then shit, it might make sense to work with the PCG. If your bank tries to position the group to you, look into what they offer in terms of free or discounted services. If it is something you will take value in, then go for it.
Full disclosure here everyone: I am a commercial banker and I will never pretend to be some sort of high end financial planner. The above article is just my observations on working with these individuals day in and day out over the last 10 years. But one thing I can tell you is that most of the individuals in the PCG lack certain designations and certifications that make me hesitant to work with them. They might have a Series 6 & 63 and can legally help invest some money, but unless their name has CFP after it, I would rather trust my financial future elsewhere.
See, that stands for Certified Financial Planner and is, at minimum, a required designation for anyone seeking to advise others on their retirement plan. There are other designations out there, but I’m not here to have a pissing contest on who can shout out the most acronyms. If your PCG banker has that particular designation, then you might be in good hands. At the end of the day, you want to do your homework on who you are doing your investing and retirement planning with. I would go so far as to recommend getting a referral from a trusted friend or, hell, even your parents because, at the end of the day, who you do your financial planning with matters much more than where you do it..