So we’ve had a long holiday in Britain for the past two weeks, what with Easter and some Princely chap getting hitched to a commoner. It’s left us all a tizz over here in blighty, so much so that I haven’t thought about banking or blogging nearly at all.
But now it’s back to the grind and so what to talk about?
Oh, I know … howsabout making banking good enough for a future King and Queen?
OK, where to start?
I guess the best place to start is where the Queen banks today: with Coutts, part of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).
Coutts is one of Britain’s most prestigious private banks, for the super elite and wealthy who like a bit of posh.
The bank dates back to 1692 when a Scottish chap, John Campbell, set up store in the Strand, London, where the bank still has a major branch today.
The bank has also enjoyed Royal patronage since its early years, when Queen Anne asked the bank, which was also a goldsmith, to make the badges for the Order of the Thistle, a highly prestigious order of chivalry for Scottish Knights, Ladies, Lords, Dukes and Earls.
Ever since, Coutts’ customers have been closely involved with events that have shaped Britain and the modern world including the American War of Independence, the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars and the opening of India and the Far East.
However, after the First World War, the bank couldn’t cope and merged with what was then the National Provincial & Union Bank of England Ltd in 1919. That later became NatWest and was acquired by RBS in 2000, where the bank resides today as RBS Coutts.
The clientele of the bank has always been the most revered in British society, and has included Queen Victoria, Lord Byron, Frédéric Chopin, the Duke of Wellington, Charles Dickens, Lord Nelson and The Beatles.
Today, it is best known as the bank to the Royal Family, with even a Coutts' ATM secretly tucked away in the basement of Buckingham Palace.
Although it is pretty secretive about its customers, you know they have to be seriously wealthy as the criteria for an account opening are pretty stringent.
You must have at least a million quid to deposit with the bank as investable assets upfront for example. Equally, if you don’t keep £250,000 with the bank through a combination of borrowing, deposits and investments, then they charge you £600 a year for the use of the account!
So why would you want an account with them, apart from the prestige?
Well, it’s all about wealth management.
It’s about personal and dedicated service.
It’s about exceeding expectations.
It’s about doffing one’s cap and being a good servant to the client.
It does not mean the bank is without controversy, as 500 of their richest customers have formed an action group to sue the bank over losses of more than £200 million in AIG, the US insurance firm that bombed in 2008.
The Group includes five members of the House of Lords, ten CEOs and CFOs of the FTSE100, and is led by Sir Keith Mills, who spearheaded Britain’s successful 2012 Olympic bid.
The case rumbles on, although it is not quite as costly as originally suspected. Even so, it’s not a good way to exceed clients’ expectations.
All in all, our new future King and Queen must be feeling like they need a good banker for the future, as they have an inheritance worth about £17 billion coming downstream.
Postnote: Coutts Bank was founded by John Campbell at the end of the seventeenth century with a partner, George Middleton. Any relation, Princess Catherine?