Life as a celebrity seems like a lot of work. Walking the red carpet, posing for photos for 5 long minutes, having your fashion sense questioned instead of your talent, it must be really stressful to be glamourous. At least, as far as I can tell, as I laze on my couch watching the E! Entertainment cable channel. But if you want to get that first-class treatment without the stench of the paparazzi, consider opening a priority banking account.
What is a priority banking account?
A priority banking account gives you preferential treatment at a bank. You get personalised service, exclusive privileges and other benefits that set you apart from the bank’s regular customers.
Think of priority banking accounts as the first-class cabin of an airplane. Even though you’re travelling the same distance as everyone else on the same flight, you get better seats and better service. You’re treated so well, you forget there are hundreds of other passengers stuffed like sardines in “economy class” on the same plane.
How do you qualify for a priority banking account?
No matter how long you’ve been a customer with a bank, the only time that means anything to them is when you’re trying to get them to waive your credit card annual fees. No, banks are businesses after all, and so their top priority is attracting customers with money.
To qualify for a priority banking account, you need to have about $200,000 in assets-under-management with a bank. This number differs from bank to bank, of course. Some banks like DBS and UOB demand a minimum of $350,000 in assets-under-management, while any amount about $150,000 is sufficient for ANZ.
What are assets-under-management?
Assets-under-management, or AUM, generally refers to how much money you have parked with the bank. This could be in the form of savings accounts or fixed deposit accounts, but mainly refers to the market value of all the investments you have with the bank. This includes bonds, shares, unit trusts, ETFs and REITs.
So basically, to have about $200,000 in assets-under-management would mean that you’re currently investing that amount with a bank.
What are the benefits of having a priority banking account?
Most banks assign you a dedicated relationship manager to assist you with your banking requests. These relationship managers or RMs may also double up as a financial advisor. Alternatively, the bank may provide you with access to a separate team of specialists who will spend most of their time (and yours!) trying to get you to buy each new financial product they introduce.
Priority banking customers also enjoy preferential interest rates, foreign exchange rates and loan packages. You’ll end up getting fees waived for various transactions, like overseas ATM withdrawal fees.
No, but what are the REAL benefits of having a priority banking account?
Ah, I see what you’re asking. Most Singaporeans will love the red carpet treatment that a priority banking account gives them. Not only will account holders have a priority queue at each bank branch, DBS even has entire branches dedicated to their priority banking customers.
Singaporean jetsetters will also love the airport lounge access, limousine services and travel discounts that many of these priority banking accounts give you.
Why are they so generous? Obviously, the only reason can afford to give you so many benefits is because you’re earning them more money than you’re saving.
What else should I look out for in a priority banking account?
If your investment interests are of the international variety, it may be important to align yourself with a bank that is able to reach markets that you want to funnel your money towards. Most local banks have a presence in emerging markets in South-East Asia, India and China. Citibank and HSBC, on the other hand, have a more worldwide reach.
So does it make sense to switch to priority banking?
This really depends on how much you have in AUM. Think about it this way, you want to be your relationship manager’s best customer. The easiest way for you to be given priority over his other customers is to have the most AUM among them.
So if you barely meet the qualifications for a priority banking account with a bank, it might be a better idea to remain the big fish in a smaller pond, than to move up the ladder and end up being your new RM’s smallest customer.
Remember, priority banking isn’t the highest status symbol a customer can reach at a bank. There’s also the elusive private banking services that are only for those with millions of dollars to their name.
Do you have a priority banking account? Share your experiences with us.