Charlotte Platts, Head of Private Banking at Santander UK, tells findaWEALTHMANAGER.com about the type of client Santander Private is targeting and why she believes her firm stands out in a hotly-contested market.
What drove the recent launch of Santander Private and what is your approach to servicing wealth management clients in the UK?
One main driver behind the launch was the success of Santander’s Select proposition, our premier banking offering, together with that of the 123 Current Account. This led to us looking closely at those particular clients and realising that many at the upper end of that segment had more requirements and required a broader proposition.
Secondly, the corporate bank’s buildout over the last six or seven years identified a number of owner-managed businesses where the owner is looking at their wealth as a whole – with some of their assets being tied up in the business, while others are not – and wanting a single banking ‘lens’ across it all where they can leverage all our expertise in different areas to fulfil their banking needs.
Our approach to meeting those needs will very much bear out the “Simple; Personal; Fair” ethos that runs throughout everything we do as a bank across current accounts, cards, personal lending, mortgages and investments.
This means we certainly won’t look to overcomplicate what we’re doing within Santander Private, as we like to keep our proposition very clear, transparent and easily understood.
We also focus on delivering through the channel that suits individual customers, whether it be a phone call, face-to-face meeting or online. Clients can also visit over 12,000 branches in 12 countries.”
How wealthy do clients need to be to work with Santander Private and how did you arrive at these thresholds?
Santander Private works with clients with investments and savings of over £500,000, or an annual income of more than £250,000, which are what we see as appropriate entry points for a holistic relationship, with a dedicated private banker.
Firstly, the half a million segment might be very widely served in the UK, but it is often not best served, in our view. For a lot of the more established and traditional private banks that level represents the lower end of what they’re looking at and therefore sometimes their proposition is not tailored towards these clients, so that’s an opportunity for us.
Secondly, we’ve set our income threshold to capture what you might think of as the ‘successful earner’, who can save as their income exceeds their day-to-day needs and who is seeking to look after those savings in a way that suits their lifestyle and can help them achieve their wider goals – whether that’s for their children’s education, helping them to buy a house in future or planning for their own retirement.
Who do you see as a “typical” client of Santander?
Really, we’re targeting wealth accumulators, whether that be through earnings or their business, and wealth preservers who have been successful and are looking to preserve their wealth, either for the next generation or for their present lifetime goals.
We recently launched externally but at this stage we’re broadly seeing clients being in their late forties or early fifties, similar to the typical age of findaWEALTHMANAGER.com’s users [average: 52 years]. That said, we’re banking more and more millennials and younger entrepreneurs, and we see tomorrow’s success stories as being equally important as the ones of today.
Wealth is booming right across the UK and we connect users with institutions in over 50 locations nationwide. Does Santander Private offer strong regional coverage?
Business-owners are spread all over the UK so the regions are really important to Santander. Our clients are based across the country, making national coverage a huge priority for us. Our wealth management offering is centred around our corporate banking centres, with our private bankers working very closely with their corporate colleagues and those in our retail branches in all the major centres.
In total, we have 41 UK centres now, having just last month opened one in Belfast.
The UK wealth management market is quite crowded and hotly-contested. What makes Santander Private stand out?
We have a well-established and recognised brand.
We will leverage the strengths of Santander Group’s private banking offering and presence in other markets internationally which will enable us to help clients when they travel abroad or live in multi jurisdictions.
There is also our relationship to the asset management arm of the company and how it runs investments.
Clients have access to their portfolio range, which are their own funds, and also their Atlas range, which is unfettered. We look very closely at clients’ profile and aspirations and then match them to something from that multi-asset range.
I think the sum of those parts makes our offering very strong and gives us a significant competitive advantage.
What level of digital provision do your clients have?
In June, we went live with the first iteration of our private banking website and we’ll be enhancing it further towards the end of the year.
Our overall digital offering is very strong. All our clients go through the Santander online banking portal which is very good. All our customers also have access to the Santander Investment Hub, which launched a year ago and allows you to save from £20 a month by direct debit or £100 lump sum up to as much as you wish. That is also where clients of ours who go through our investment advice journey can monitor all the investment solutions they have purchased through us or carry out transactions via our execution-only platform.
We’ve also been working with the FCA’s innovation team to further develop that, which is really exciting.
Finally, how would you characterise your service ethos?
In essence, it’s very uncomplicated and transparent – it’s easy to see what you’re being charged – and it’s very personal.
Every client within Santander Private has a dedicated private banker; they have their mobile number and can call them when they wish. If they need to do something transactional or they’ve lost their chequebook, they are supported by a dedicated team based in one of our three UK call centres and there’s a special support number for out-of-hours.
Our ethos is about recognising that the personal interface is really important, but also that everyone leads very busy lives these days. It’s that combination of allowing clients to interact with us digitally, via telephony and face-to-face that adds up to a first-class service, combined with wealth management solutions that are very uncomplicated and easily understood.