Following the completion of the acquisition of Kleinwort Benson by Societe Generale on June 6th, John Maitland and Paul Kearney introduce the new private bank that will be known as Kleinwort Hambros, and share their vision.
WHAT WAS THE RATIONALE BEHIND THE ACQUISITION?
John Maitland (JM): This acquisition brings together two of the most recognised names in private banking in the UK and Channel Islands, with shared values and a shared heritage. The acquisition will create one of the leading private banks and substantially increase our presence and profile in this key market. Our business models and our roots are very similar. Both banks are known for putting clients first and that comes from the people who work within the businesses. This is the core principle of our culture and approach.
Paul Kearney (PK): From the outset, this was a great match; the interaction and work carried out over the past few months by all the teams has confirmed this. We have the same ambition – to serve our clients fairly and efficiently – and we are committed to maintaining this as our main common objective.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR CLIENTS OF BOTH BANKS?
PK: The complementary nature of Kleinwort Benson and SGPB Hambros will support all our clients’ needs across banking from domestic and international wealth planning and fiduciary services to investment management, market access, structured products and specialised services. This expertise, together with the support of Societe Generale Group (SG Group) and the access to its worldwide network, will ensure our combined business is strongly positioned to grow and continue to deliver a high-quality service to our clients.
JM: It also means having the critical mass to be a leading player in the UK and Channel Islands in terms of assets under management. Underpinning all this, we have the quality of service that we know can exceed our clients’ expectations thanks to all our teams from across Kleinwort Benson and Societe Generale Private Banking (SGPB). That also means a greater product offering for our clients.
CAN KLEINWORT BENSON OFFER SGPB HAMBROS PRODUCTS AND SERVICES TO THEIR CLIENTS AND VICE-VERSA
PK: We are currently working with our compliance and legal teams across both businesses to decide how to share access to the different range of solutions each bank offers. We can see that there are many which are of interest to clients of both banks. For example, clients of SGPB Hambros would benefit from access to Kleinwort Benson funds and its regulated credit offering in the Channel Islands, and Kleinwort Benson clients would benefit from SGPB Hambros banking services and structured investment products. We are actively working on finalising the new range of investment funds and we will ensure we share the details with you as soon as possible.
HOW WILL THE MERGER OF BOTH BANKS AFFECT CLIENTS?
JM: In terms of next steps, we have built on the excellent work done to date through the workstreams that were created to support the acquisition, and now our focus is on merging Kleinwort Benson with SGPB Hambros. Our trust companies have recently merged and we expect to achieve a complete merger of the banks by early 2017. In parallel, it is business as usual with our clients. Private bankers are committed to supporting clients during this transition as smoothly as possible.
HOW DOES THE MERGER OF BOTH BANKS FIT WITH SG’S GLOBAL STRATEGY?
JM: The acquisition reflects Societe Generale’s growth strategy in private banking in its core markets of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and is aligned with its ambition to be a relationship-focused private bank of reference. The UK is a key centre for wealth management, and therefore a priority market for SGPB. Both Kleinwort Benson and SGPB Hambros are recognised as two strong UK and Channel Islands brands.
CAN YOU TELL US THE RATIONALE BEHIND THE NEW BRAND?
JM: We commissioned a qualitative survey with a representative sample of business stakeholders for both Hambros and Kleinwort Benson: clients, prospects, business introducers. We also spoke with Board members of both banks. The priority was to find the right balance within a brand formed from two strong names, in order to reflect our shared heritage and shared values.
Kleinwort, created in 1786, and Hambros, created in 1839, share a long-standing history, conveying similar values. The recognition and value of such heritage brands were highlighted in the interviews conducted, hence the decision to focus on the local brands. The Hambros brand, acquired in 1998 by Societe Generale, was less visible in recent years while Societe Generale was developing its private banking expertise in the UK. The new brand gives prominence back to Hambros.
Our parent company, Societe Generale, is still part of our brand and part of our new logo, as our clients feel reassured by its strength and stability.
The existing logos will remain and go hand in hand with the new brand until the full legal completion of the integration is complete, scheduled in the first quarter of 2017.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SAY TO YOUR CLIENTS?
PK: We understand that our clients want to feel reassured that they bank with a strong and successful organisation which can offer not only interesting investment ideas but also keep up with new technologies. Pooling our expertise and resources together with the backing of the SG Group means we can invest in these areas. The combination of two historic private banking brands to create one of the largest private banks in the UK is a truly exciting opportunity.