When we caught up with Jakob, Group CEO of the boutique private bank Quintet, it was in the days of semi-lockdown and (naturally) over video-call. He was joined by Tess & Huib, Group Head of Client Experience and Group Head of Marketing respectively - the team behind the new For a Richer Life campaign. The hope is that it will change the conversation about wealth and amassing possessions by focusing it squarely on meaning, purpose and individual priorities.
After three months of life in lockdown, the slower pace of life has certainly given many of us time to reflect upon our priorities.
“When we used the metaphor of taking a seat at our clients’ kitchen tables to illustrate how closely we see ourselves working in partnership with them, we had no idea just how significant it would become when quarantine set in”, says Jakob.
“During lockdown, the kitchen table really did become the place for key decision-making for many people – all around the world.”
For Tess, this deeply personal sense of partnership between team Quintet and their clients is really at the heart of the forward-thinking bank’s proposition. Not for nothing is their daily mission to “put purpose before numbers”.
This desire to think differently – to transcend outdated notions of monetary ‘wealth’, and replace them with things that enrich us in myriad ways – certainly fits the current zeitgeist, perhaps even more so in the wake of the global pandemic. From now on, it seems, we want our money to have meaning.
Which is why eight defining factors underpin the trio’s approach to helping clients lead a Richer Life. “To us, a Richer Life means challenging perceptions to create a new value system.
“We want to help our clients reflect on their definition of ‘success’ and ‘security’ – then consider their family’s needs, their wellbeing, their personal development, their connections beyond their immediate circle – and their sense of enjoyment. All this while recognising the impact they have on society and the planet", explains Huib.
“The balance between these elements may be different for everyone. We’re here to help people step back and think holistically, then define this idea of living richly – in whatever shape or form that matters most to them.”
It sounds promising – inspiring, even. But banks and other financial institutions are good at talking the talk. So, what sets the Richer Life movement apart?
“Two things: firstly, it really is resonating. Our Kitchen Table series, in which people video themselves talking about what a Richer Life means to them, has already attracted a great following. Secondly, the proof is in the pudding – we deliver what we say we will. We genuinely help our clients live a more meaningful life", says Jakob.
In his 40 years experience in the banking industry, he estimates that 9/10 conversations about wealth management begin with an advisor selling the client “the latest product”. Every Richer Life Quintet conversation starts with what matters most to the client: “How’s your family? How’s your business? What’s going on in your life? What makes you tick?”.
Get to know your client on a human level, and the investment solutions flow naturally. Maybe they want to pursue a philanthropic cause, perhaps their interest lies in art. Maybe they need to solve a family issue, or want to invest in their personal development. Often, they’re redefining what it means to leave a “legacy”.
“We’ve all come from a big bank background”, adds Jakob. “They’re bound by hierarchies and structures, which makes it very difficult to put the client first. That’s why I, along with Jürg Zeltner, who has now sadly passed away, were determined to do something different.
“Jürg was someone who definitely made my life richer. Working together, we decided to start an independent, boutique-style bank that put clients first and had a purposeful culture internally”, he adds.
“By refusing to categorise clients only by wealth bracket, we really are breaking the mould", agrees Tess, whose two decades in global banking convinced her that there was a better, more relevant way to work for clients who want to do things differently too.
“Let’s take an example”, she continues. “Picture two people identical on paper: they are the same age, have the same postcode, same family setup and identical wealth profiles. These two people are Prince Charles and Ozzy Osbourne! Would you treat them the same? It just shows you that the old systems and labels don’t deliver anymore.”
Although a private bank built on 71 years’ worth of history, Quintet has the challenger feel and entrepreneurial spirit of a start-up.
Even over video-call, where communication cues are easily diluted, it’s clear that all three live, work, sleep and breathe the concept of living richly. Clients believe in it – because as a team, they believe in it so wholeheartedly too.
“It’s essential that everyone who works with us feels that they’re living richly, not just serving those who want to do the same,” explains Huib. “Most banks are matrix organisations that work in silos and who restructure every nine months. It's challenging to build relationships within this structure. Our entire culture is based on collaboration – we depend on each other.
“We have to ensure that our values are aligned, that we work on the basis of mutual respect and that we accept others' differences to harness our differing strengths. This is real collaboration, and the client feels it. They know it's authentic and trust us because they can see how much we trust each other.”
So, what does a Richer Life mean to each of them? And has anything shifted as a result of life in lockdown?
Of the eight purpose-driven elements underpinning the Richer Life movement, Huib, who’s been cycling along the blissfully clear roads of locked-down Amsterdam, finds his focus has become more about family. For him, solid relationships at home provide the foundation for everything else in his life.
Jakob derives a sense of value when he delivers a positive impact; whether that be solving a complex family issue, advising clients on sustainable investments, or indeed making Quintet an environmentally responsible company in the 50 cities it currently spans across Europe.
Like many of us, Tess has spent lockdown baking – a trade she learned professionally before going into banking. Reflecting on any life lessons she might tell her younger self, she says she would define 'success' in different terms.
“I used to be a real planner, worrier and a control freak. If life shifted from my pre-ordained plan, I would feel like a failure.
"Now I realise that worrying about the future and sticking to a fixed plan doesn't bring happiness. Life will throw us all curveballs, and they will challenge us. But it's in these moments of challenge that we can find the real opportunities to think differently and yes – live a Richer Life."