Private banker

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Private banker , also a bank or private bank , refers to a company in the private banking sector . The term is used differently narrowly or broadly. In the narrower sense, private banks are classified under this term as the legal form of sole proprietorships or one of the legal forms of partnership ( limited partnership or general partnership in Germany ; general or limited partnership in Switzerland ). The decision-making powers are in the hands of the owner and there is personal liability .

Colloquially, the owner of a bank is also referred to as a private banker or banker (from French: Banquier ).

Definition of terms

The term private bank can be defined in different ways. In the most comprehensive definition, all private banks are referred to as private banks, i.e. those banks that are privately owned, regardless of the respective structure and business activities of the bank as well as the ownership structure. In the narrower sense, the term private bank is linked to the legal form of sole proprietorship or partnership. The definition of the term approaches that of the private banker or is identical to it.

Private bankers in the narrowest sense are banks in which only owners and their family members are represented in the management . A broader description of the term private banker implies that the management team can also consist of personally liable partners. The term private banker extends beyond the legal form and also includes the managing partners and owners of the bank.

The term private banking must be distinguished from this . On the one hand, this term describes the care for mostly wealthy customers, which is more intensive, more individual and / or more personal than in mass customer business. On the other hand, the term private banking is used for the business area of ​​a bank that operates private banking. Although the similarity of the terms private banker, private bank and private banking often leads to the wrong conclusion that private banking services are only offered by small private banks and private bankers, today private banking is offered and provided by all banks, regardless of legal form and ownership . Private bankers or private banks (in the sense of the narrow definition) represent the historical origin of the private banking business, but no longer the largest group of providers.

Legal bases


In Germany, private banks are subject to the German Banking Act (KWG). According to Section 32 KWG, the owners require written permission from the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) and, according to Section 32 Paragraph 1 No. 4 KWG, have to prove that they are professionally qualified. After § 39 KWG, the term "bank", "banker" or a designation reserved, in which the word "bank" or "banker" is included in the company , as an addition to the company, identifying the business purpose or for advertising purposes only credit institutions to lead. This means that these terms are legally protected and may only be used by the owner of a banking transaction. This is to prevent the public from being misled through abuse.

As a result of the amendment to the KWG since 1976, it has no longer been possible to establish new credit institutions in the legal form of sole proprietorships .


The private banker has its own legal position in the Swiss Banking Act (BankG). Art. 1 para. 1 BankG assigns the private banker the legal forms sole proprietorship , general partnership and limited partnership . Private bankers require a license from the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA).

In addition, the term private banker is protected by a collective trademark that is deposited with the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property on behalf of the Association of Swiss Private Bankers . Most of the private bankers are grouped together in this association. The use of this mark is reserved for members and other banks that are organized as sole proprietorships or general or limited partnerships and that have one or more bankers with unlimited personal liability.

historical development

The private bankers are the oldest form of business in banking. Their origins go back to the 13th century, when Florence rose to become a trading power and the banking industry there began to flourish. As original wholesalers, commission agents or forwarding agents, they turned more and more to the banking business through the credit and exchange business connected with the commodity business.

The Bardi , Peruzzi and Acciaiuoli from Florence were among the first and most important banking families at the time . At the beginning of the 14th century these had branches in practically all of the most important cities in Europe and de facto held the monopoly of papal finances. When the English King Edward III. refused to repay his debt accumulated by the Hundred Years War in 1345 , they got into enormous trouble and eventually lost their influence.

The best-known forerunner of today's private bankers, however, is Vieri di Cambio de 'Medici . Between 1348 and 1392 he built a widely branched bank with several branches in the most important European cities. Among his pupils and later partners was his nephew, Giovanni di Bicci de 'Medici , who first ran the branch in Rome and took it over in 1393. While the once very successful banking house of Vieri di Cambio de 'Medici, after his age-related retirement in 1393, went under under the leadership of his two sons, his nephew's banking house was extremely successful. Two years after the death of his uncle, Giovanni di Bicci de 'Medici moved his activities to Florence in 1397 and founded the Banco Medici . This formed the basis of the later rise of the Medici to one of the most powerful families of that time in Europe.

During this time there were a number of bankers and banking families whose rise and fall went hand in hand with the economic, political and military but also religious power shifts in Europe.

Until the middle of the 19th century, small financial houses run by private bankers, typically in the form of a family business, were the predominant form of organization in the banking sector. At that time they acted as universal bankers who brokered the loans for their customers. The private bankers were the most important and influential bearers of the entire credit system up to the time of pre-industrialization and early industrialization.

The banking system in Germany changed significantly in the early days . Several banks have now been established in the form of publicly traded joint-stock companies. The best-known foundings of this time in Germany were the Disconto-Gesellschaft (1851), Deutsche Bank (1870), Commerzbank (1870) and Dresdner Bank (1872).

The trend that the number and importance of private bankers compared to the other banking groups (big banks, savings banks, cooperative banks) has continued into our time.

year Number of German
private bankers
Business volume Total deposits
1902 1,386
1913 1,221
1919 1,100
1925 1.406
1932 709
1938 491 (520) 1,260 million RM
1956 222 3,342 million DM 2,127 million DM
1960 209 5,952 million DM 4,156 million DM
1964 217 9,868 million DM 7,124 million DM
1966 205 11,567 million DM 7,981 million DM
1968 184 15,108 million DM 11,705 million DM
1970 170 20,848 million DM 15,248 million DM
1971 165 20,407 million DM 14,706 million DM
1974 138

The German banking crisis of 1931 led to a significant reduction in the number of private bankers. Many smaller banks collapsed or were merged into larger banks. The support of the big banks by the state played a role here (which led to customer losses among private bankers). The emergency decree of the Reich President, which limited the number of supervisory board members to 30, also played a role . As a result, representatives of the private bankers often lost supervisory board mandates and thus business opportunities.

Another setback occurred with the seizure of power of the Nazis and the associated linearization , because many private bankers were of Jewish descent.

As a reflection of the reduction in the number and importance of private bankers, the importance of public and cooperative banking increased. In particular, the savings banks and their leading institutes were able to increase their market share to around 50%.

Most of the historically traditional private bankers have disappeared over time. The first banking families disappeared mainly due to the various shifts in political power in Europe. Later, especially during industrialization , it was the rapidly increasing loan needs that many private bankers could no longer meet. Another reason was the lack of a successor, which made the successful continuation of the bank from generation to generation much more difficult. So most banks formerly family owned were sold or corporations converted.

The remaining private bankers could only survive economically because they changed their business model: They largely gave up the universal banking business and specialized in private banking , i.e. H. looking after wealthy clients and looking after their assets. To do this, they used the nimbus of their family tradition, which can be traced back to the 18th century and earlier (“luxury banking”).

The term private banker has been protected in Switzerland since 1997 and restricted to certain legal forms. Since 1999, the Deutsche Bundesbank has no longer included the private banker group in its statistics.

List of active private bankers


In 2017, the Association of German Banks listed 22 private bankers:

Private bankers are defined in the statutes of the Association of German Banks as follows:

“Private bankers are credit institutions that are run in the legal form of a general partnership or a limited partnership. Limited partnerships based on shares are considered private banks provided

a) the personally liable partners are natural persons and
b) the company's shares are not traded on the stock exchange and
c) the transfer of the shares is subject to the consent of the personally liable partners. "


In Switzerland there is the Association of Swiss Private Bankers (VSPB). She writes (as of February 2017) among other things:

“In Switzerland, the term 'private banker' corresponds to a precise definition within the meaning of the Banking Act: These are banks in the legal form of sole proprietorships, collective and limited partnerships. The specific position of private bankers is justified by the presence in their ranks of one or more partners with unlimited liability for their bank.


In order to avoid the dilution and the misuse of the term `` private banker '' by persons or companies who do not meet the legal requirements, the collective mark `` private banker '' (in the singular and plural, in various languages) was created in 1997 by the Association of Swiss Private Bankers deposited with the Federal Institute for Intellectual Property. "

As of February 2017, five of the nine member banks of the VSPB correspond to the definition of a Swiss private banker and are allowed to refer to themselves as follows:

List of former private bankers

Examples of former private bankers who are now partly or wholly owned by major banks and insurance groups:


Well-known bankers are the Rothschilds , who, because they were simultaneously active in Frankfurt , London , Vienna , Paris and Naples in the 19th century , were able to easily compensate for losses in one country caused by recessions with profits of the other banks. In addition, they often had an information advantage, which in some deals made them big profits.

Other private bankers are or were among others:

Web links

Wiktionary: Banker  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Patrick Zenz-Spitzweg: The choice of the provider in private banking (= Hamburger Schriften zur Marketingforschung. Vol. 50). Rainer Hampp Verlag, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-86618-164-9 , here in particular p. 38 and Table 2 on p. 41; see. Dominik Löber: Private Banking in Germany: Strategy and Organizational Architecture (= publications on European management ). Springer Gabler, Wiesbaden 2012, ISBN 978-3-8349-3558-8 , p. 27; see. Robert Wolf: private bankers in Germany. Fight to survive? Diplomica Verlag, Hamburg 2013, ISBN 978-3-8428-8217-1 , p. 2 ff.
  2. Patrick Zenz-Spitzweg: The choice of the provider in private banking (= Hamburger Schriften zur Marketingforschung. Vol. 50). Rainer Hampp Verlag, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-86618-164-9 , p. 40.
  3. Patrick Zenz-Spitzweg: The choice of the provider in private banking (= Hamburger Schriften zur Marketingforschung. Vol. 50). Rainer Hampp Verlag, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-86618-164-9 , p. 27.
  4. ^ Eberhart Ketzel: The credit system in the Federal Republic of Germany. Bund-Verlag, Cologne 1982, ISBN 3-7663-0508-5 , p. 87; Stephan Schöning: private banker. In: Gabler Wirtschaftslexikon. Retrieved March 25, 2014.
  5. Mediateca Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Firenze (Italian).
  6. ^ Statistics of the Reichsbank / Bundesbank; quoted from: The Private Banker - Niche Strategies Past and Present. (= Bank historical archive, supplements. Vol. 41). Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 2003, ISBN 3-515-08311-1 , p. 28.
  7. Figures. No. 461511, Erich Schmidt Verlag, January 1972.
  8. The private banker (= Bank Historical Archive, supplements . Vol. 41). Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 2003, ISBN 3-515-08311-1 , pp. 35-36.
  9. Dominik Löber: Private Banking in Germany: Strategy and Organizational Architecture (= publications on European management ). Springer Gabler, Wiesbaden 2012, ISBN 978-3-8349-3558-8 , p. 27.
  10. ^ Members of private bankers . Association of German Banks , accessed on October 29, 2017.
  11. JUVE - Consolidation: VR-Bank Westmünsterland buys with GSK Münsterländische Bank «JUVE .
  12. ^ Articles of Association (PDF, p. 8). Association of German Banks, as of August 2014, here: Section 5b No. 3. Accessed April 6, 2016.
  13. a b Our members . Website of the Association of Swiss Private Bankers, accessed on March 2, 2017.
  14. ^ H. Upmann Bank Building. Archived from the original on October 7, 2017 ; accessed on October 7, 2017 (English).