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Discover next-generation private banking in India

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13 Jul 2023

Home > News > About Standard Chartered > Innovation > Discover next-generation private banking in India
An inside look at our new Kolkata Private Banking Centre

India’s Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) population is booming. According to Knight Frank, there will be more than 19,000 UHNW individuals in 2027 – 58% more than the 11,529 reported in 2022. And as wealth in India grows so do products and services for the wealthy.

In February, we opened our latest Indian Private Banking Centre providing bespoke banking for UHNW individuals. Based in Kolkata, the centre is our fourth, joining our other centres Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, with a further location poised to open in Chennai in July.

Pankaj Walia, our Managing Director and Head of Private Banking in India explains: “We expect a strong growth among the billionaire population in India. Considering the size of the opportunity we have decided to open a new centre in Kolkata.

“The team based there will not only cover the city, but the entire eastern part of the country. With the new centre open we are now able to offer our entire gamut of private banking services from Kolkata, rather than having our bankers from the region travel across the country to meet clients.”

A strong culture and chemistry

The new centre is based in our office on Netaji Subhas Road, right in the heart of the city, which has long been a stronghold for the bank and has history as a private banking hub. The centre currently houses five private bankers, a host of service managers and several meeting suites for local clients.

The opening of the office also led to a number of new hires. Sayantan Guha, is a Director for Private Banking for our east India region and joined the bank three months ago from a local private bank. He explains that the set-up ensures clients are well looked after and their needs are met.

“Being based in this office, you soon get to know a lot of key people in the organisation,” he says. “We talk about our common clients, and make sure we work as one bank to provide the best possible service.”

He adds: “Some employees have been associated with this office for the past 30 years, so there is a strong culture and chemistry. As a new starter it gives me a lot of confidence when I go and meet a client, because I know, whatever requirements they have, I can rely on my colleagues in other departments to help.”

The centre is also proving popular among clients. “They take a lot of pride in coming to this office,” Sayatan says. “I’ve spoken to many clients who’ve explained that their grandparents used to come to this office maybe as long as 40 to 50 years ago and now they are coming in to look after their own finances.”

India Private Banking Office
Pratik Majumder – a director in the Private Banking  team – works on his emails from the Kolkata office. Banner image – Sayantan Guha

Generation to generation

With the growth in India-based billionaires, meeting client needs and winning new business is crucial. While many of our existing clients are generationally wealthy families, new money – in the form of start-ups – is a growing segment all banks must cater to.

“There is a new culture of millennials – digital natives – which are growing very fast,” Pankaj explains. “It has led to a real start up culture in the country, and with the high GDP growth in India it is given rise to new billionaires. Opportunity wise, and demographic wise, we feel that India has a lot of potential and that’s the reason we are increasing our presence.”

Sayantan adds: “Many of the billionaires – especially in Kolkata – have inherited their money from their elders, and we have been catering to these clients for generations.

“Many of the richest people in the city have, at some point or another, been associated with Standard Chartered, if not the present generation, possibly the previous generation and – if not them – maybe the generation before that.”

“We want to renew these relationships. The bank is a strong brand in India and opening the centre has given us an opportunity to reach out. We are getting a seriously good response.”

A beautiful platform

Having a strong offering is crucial to winning new clients, whether they are the latest in the line of a family with strong ties to the bank, or newly minted tech billionaires. Our footprint, and breath of products and services, is one of our strongest selling points.

Pankaj says: “Lending and wealth management are the two key components of our offering but what differentiates us from the competition, what really gives us that edge, is our universal banking platform.

“We can offer clients banking products, like current accounts, savings accounts and deposits, which is different to a lot of boutique private banks which operate in India. With our footprint and network, we can offer cross border international banking, which is crucial for many Indian billionaires that have also been expanding into global markets. We also collaborate with our corporate team to assist clients who need banking services for their businesses.”

Yet there are other intangibles that really appeal to clients. Rekha Bamji, a Director in our Private Banking team in the west of India, explains that our Future Global Leaders Programme (FGLP).

The FGLP is a programme targeted at those aged 20 to 32, and is anchored on five pillars: leadership, entrepreneurship, philanthropy, sustainability and communications. Participants have the opportunity to learn from business and philanthropic leaders on how to represent their families and countries on the global stage, as well as build on their leadership styles and create impact in their societies.

“The FGLP,” she says “is curated for clients aged between 25 to 32 and helps them interact, and network, with likeminded individuals. It’s a beautiful platform and clients really look forward to the sessions. These kinds of event are a money can’t buy experience.”

Rekha believes that having been in India for more than 160 years adds to our attraction among private clients too. “We originated in the city of Kolkata, in fact, Kolkata and Shanghai, were the first cities where we opened branches as Chartered Bank way back in 1858,” she says. “Clients trust us due to our longevity and trust us to manage their investment given our history.”

It may be that our past plays a crucial part of our future endeavours in Indian private banking. The competition is fierce, both in Kolkata and across India, but the plan is for growth to continue. As well as the new banking centre in Chennai, further hubs could open if the right opportunity presents itself.

“For this year, we are happy to expand to five centres but, at the same time, we are also exploring opportunities in other parts of the country as well,” Pankaj says.

“We can also leverage our network because we have branches in 42 cities. So even if we don’t have a private banking centre, we can use our existing branches to cover some of the services for our clients.

He concludes: “However, if we feel that there is the opportunity for us to set up a Private Banking Centre in 2024 or beyond, we will definitely consider it.”