Monday, July 13, 2009


Privilege banking services in Middle East

Privilege banking services means better options for bigger business and high net worth customers for banks. The face of modern banking offers the options to customers that do not involve dealing with an actual human face. Apart from the services like online banking, telephone banking, multi channel banking the other main advantage is privilege banking which provides a dedicated account manager to complete your banking transactions.

Few banks in Middle East, the term Privilege Banking, Private Banking or Preferred Banking are used interchangeably. With the advent of the Dubai International Financial Centre, Qatar Financial Centre and the Bahrain Financial Harbour, there is a great choice for customers then before. Oman Banks have introduced specialized services which they offer to High-Net-Worth (HNW) and Ultra High-Net-Worth (UHNW) individuals and institutions. For instance, At Bank Dhofar, customers with a salary income between RO500-RO1000 per month qualify for privilege banking services, which includes a dedicated counter for them at the bank. For private banking services, the criteria are different. Mohammed Yousuf Al Ibrahim of Bank Dhofar says, “Since our unit is in a nascent stage, we do not want to be too restrictive in accepting clients. Any individual/institution with a net worth of RO500,000 is welcome to try our services.”

National Bank of Oman (NBO) is offering privilege banking since June 2000 and they have added some additional attractions for customers till date. The key features includes a specially designed NBO card, a dedicated personal account manager, representative cards (so that customers do not need to visit the bank personally for small transactions), personalized cheque book, access to international airport lounges. Additionally it also benefits you through its features like express transaction processing, reserved car parking, exclusive investment opportunities in Oman and across the globe with wide range of rewarding investment products.

Privilege Banking customers are entitled to special rates on other products like loans and credit cards. They also get preferential rates on their deposits. Mohammed Yousuf Al Ibrahim of Bank Dhofar adds that clients have varying degrees of risk tolerance. “This is something that we take into serious consideration, and so we carefully adapt our services to meet the needs of customers belonging to different categories and segments”.

NBO’s Privilege Banking even includes insurance products for customer financial protection, entitled to a Sadara Platinum Card – Oman’s first Vertical Credit Card with a range of unique benefits like regular invitations and complimentary passes to events as per customer’s interest of choice, discounts on Restaurants, etc. Asif al Radhvi, the head of distribution channels and business development, NBO says, “Customers will have to maintain an average monthly balance of RO 15,000 or above in any deposit account with the bank to qualify for the privilege banking package.”

NBO’s Redhavi says, “Traditionally, wealthy individuals explored investment avenues in other markets due to lack of investment products in the local market. But this scenario is rapidly changing, with banks offering innovative investment products – both local and overseas. There is tremendous growth potential to offer such products that will not only control the outflow of wealth but also work towards attracting funds back into the country.” Put that way, it becomes more of a win-win situation than it already is.