According to a recent report, the average Belgian has the third highest net financial assets in the world. The ‘Global Wealth Report’ said only Switzerland and the United States score higher with the Netherlands fourth.
In Belgium, the average net financial assets per capita amounted to €78,300 in 2013, a rise of 4.6 per cent compared to 2012.
As relative wealth increases so does the need for specialist financial services, including private banking. ING private banking offers everything from everyday banking transactions and savings packages to loans and insurance.
It is perhaps worth bearing in mind that, in order to benefit from its private banking services, you should have assets in excess of €1m. But, with many Belgians apparently becoming richer, there is likely to be an ever-rising demand for private banking.
Brussels-based Philippe Wallez, General Manager of its private banking arm, says: “For a private bank, it is a real advantage to be part of a direct universal bank. ING is not only a direct bank, it is also a bank for companies with a vast network of branches.
“In other words, we can offer our wealthy clients a broad raft of services, for both their private assets and their business, one single organization for all of a customer’s projects.
“Maximising the management of private wealth can be a relatively complex matter. The globalization of the economy, market volatility, the extreme diversity of financial instruments or even taxation, are difficult factors to master. Against such a backdrop, it is essential to be able to rely on specialists.”
Mr Wallez spelled out some of the reasons why ING private banking in particular is proving so popular. One factor, he said, it that it can boast 95 private bankers throughout Belgium who answer any question about a customer’s wealth. It offers two different approaches to managing someone’s financial wealth: “discretionary”
management and “advisory” management.
Depending on a client´s choice, they will be allocated a portfolio manager who will manage the case in keeping with the recommendations of the bank’s Investment Office.
This is a team of investment specialists who, says Mr Wallez, “constantly decipher market trends to define a clear and precise strategy.”
ING Private Banking, which has offices in Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent and Loyers, also includes 15 legal experts grouped together under the name Wealth Analysis & Planning, providing legal and tax advice on the preservation, control and inheritance planning of your wealth or that of your business.
Lending and insurance is another important element of its work. For example, you may have finally found the second home you have been dreaming of owning but your cash is not readily available just when you need it. You could take out a private banking loan and your private banker will help you with the formalities.
“In cooperation with credit specialists, he will determine, together with the client, the most appropriate loan package, a conventional mortgage loan or tailor-made funding.”
Different asset transactions can require this type of service, including funding a real estate transaction in Belgium or abroad; obtaining liquidities to buy a work of art; paying death duties or benefiting from an advantageous tax system.
ING has also set up two mortgage centres to simplify the steps for taking out a mortgage loan and provide personalized advice. Their specialized advisors can process the whole file, from preparing it up to the final decision to grant the loan, including all the intermediary technical stages such as price negotiation and guarantees.
This “comprehensive monitoring” is supplemented by personalized advice, in particular in the field of taxation.
The bank also puts great store by what it calls its “family business approach”.
Mr Wallez says, “A family business is an integral part of your wealth. This type of business can go through different stages which sometimes need professional assistance.
“For instance, transmission can constitute an especially sensitive and delicate stage which must take into account both family and financial considerations. Many scenarios are feasible in this field and our experts can provide concrete answers and objective advice.”
The main aim of ING Private Banking, he says, is to draw attention to the importance of preparing your succession and assisting you in the process.
Mr Wallez explains: “To manage your wealth, it is important that you can call on a person of trust, someone who listens to you and who knows perfectly your situation in its entirety, your projects, priorities and those of your family, building together a quality professional and personal relationship, sustainable over time.”