Private banking is a relatively young industry in Central and Eastern Europe, and the practice differs in some important respects from Western models. Most CEE countries house less “old money,” or inherited wealth, than those with longer-running capitalist economies. Instead, the great majority of private banking clients are entrepreneurs and business owners who have built up wealth during their own lifetime or are the first generation to inherit. Private bankers therefore need to combine expertise in wealth management with a skill set that addresses their clients’ needs as business owners.
While some markets, such as Poland, are growing rapidly and attracting more competition, in most CEE countries private banking services are provided through dedicated units within the local subsidiaries of large European banks. These players can leverage the investment banking, fund management and technology capabilities of a large and powerful financial services group to meet the needs of their clients in a set of still-emerging wealth markets.