x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

A day in the life of a private-wealth banker

The Life: How do you maintain the trust of the most wealthy people in the world even as global markets tremble? It's not easy, says Paolo Moscovici of JP Morgan Private Bank.

Paolo Moscovici, the head of JPMorgan Private Bank in the Middle East and North Africa. Jeff Topping / The National
Paolo Moscovici, the head of JPMorgan Private Bank in the Middle East and North Africa. Jeff Topping / The National

Paolo Moscovici is the head of JPMorgan Private Bank in the Middle East and North Africa. He explains that the most important factor in dealing with clients in a market slump is "communication, communication, communication". Below, his day by the numbers.

12am

Our customers are the wealthiest people in the world. They won't consume their wealth in their lifetimes, and they tend to be extremely conservative on their investment perceptions. What I'm asked to do is intervene in the most complex senior situations with existing clients. I might need to pick up the phone to a sheikh and reassure him, or grab an aeroplane and go down to Abu Dhabi and see him. I flew in on Sunday at midnight and was on the BlackBerry until about 2am.

6am

I get up.

8am

Client calls can go from minimum of an hour to more. When you have to call them to say the portfolio's down again … those are the hardest phone calls, because you don't have good news. You'd rather call when the portfolio's fine and you have good news. We say, "don't panic.You don't need this money right now. You can ride the wave. It's not down as much as the market, and here's what we're doing."

12pm

A lunch meeting can last two hours. In this part of the world, you really should eat very slowly. The minute your plate is empty, they'll say, "but you haven't tried this!" You have to marry doing your own thing with being culturally sensitive. I was at an incredible lunch where the host - who was a very important figure - put me to his right, with 20 people around the table, took his food with his hand and put it on my plate. It was a symbol of trust and desire to connect.

2pm

All day I'm checking my BlackBerry. I'm communicating with clients on the road and in airport lounges. We're dealing with the wealthiest people in the world … if they call you up and ask you a question, and you're not prepared, your credibility and the credibility of JPMorgan is hurt.

6pm

I do a lot of sports. At 6 o'clock I'll go for an hour at the gym or for a swim. I need a break, and then I'm ready to go again and take a client for dinner.

7pm until late

There's an extreme dedication and sensitivity in the culture of the Middle East to welcoming you into their home. We only have a very few big clients that we can dedicate that time to, but it's so important that the privacy, confidentiality and discretion is there. And sometimes in a client's home, it's much more prevalent than going into an office. Once they trust us, they're our best source of new clients. I've been to a house where a very good client has invited five of his business friends and uncles to join us.