Additional service offerings to implement a tailor-made strategy for diversified investments
... like a Swiss Private Bank, just performing better
Our Core Services
As a deliberately small and hence focused and dedicated partnership our key focus is helping our clients to invest through our fund products. However, the ultimate benefit will depend largely on the frame within which the returns are received →
Framework for Investing
The optimal framework for investing will differ significantly from one client to another - covering issues such as privacy, asset protection, tax, inheritance, capital controls and many more →
Support & Network
Set-up and maintenance of each structure require many different elements to take care of - this Section outlines areas where we are ready to support - either personally or through our network of partner firms →
Private Banking Advisory
How to obtain better services at lower costs from private banks
The Managing Partners of Bernstein Trust are clients of private banks themselves. However, they have restricted their use to bare essentials, i.e. custody services, transfer & clearing services, cash handling and safe-keeping where necessary. Overall - based on their own experience, interviews with other clients of private banks and additional research - when it comes to the actual investment management and advisory part, most private banks offer a mediocre to lousy service, notably when compared to the costs and fees involved. To select the better performers and to help you reduce your fees - which is always possible - you just have to ask the right person, in the right way with the right arguments, is the core of our Private Banking Advisory service.
Background of private banks and impact on performance
Part of the aforementioned underperformance in what is supposed to be their core area of expertise is quite simply related to their history, their personnel and business model. We summarize and analyse these aspects hereafter - with the objective to inspire you be a little less respectful and a lot more demanding with your banker - or to look at alternative banks, set-ups or solutions.
"Brick & Mortar"
A Private Bank is almost exclusively located in nice premises in a premier financial center. The offices are luxuriously furnished and an atmosphere of quite elegance is conveyed. Staff is dressing conservatively, voices are kept low since discretion is a founding pillar of the business model. The infrastructure and fixed costs for this set-up are high - and fully paid by the fees that your money generates for them.
Historically, the private banker or “Privatbankier” was a highly trustworthy individual, who was liable with all he had for his business undertakings. Clients entrusted their money to the banker because they trusted him. Most venerable private banking firms, i.e. the Rothschilds, Barings, Hambros, Harrimans, Trinkaus’, Delbrücks’, Warburgs lived off these outstanding founding individuals and their reputation. Matters have changed though and these days the private banker is an employed individual, most larger private banking groups are listed companies, needing to report quarterly earnings. The qualification of the “employee private banker” is usually a university degree, a good upbringing, decent manners, ideally some family relationships and a mind-set of servitude. The pay is usually very good, as are the double-digit profit margins generated in this business area with your fees.
Compliance & Custody
Based on all the evidence of the recent years, accommodating tax cheaters has been a key feature in the business model of private banks (see our collection of links at Money Laundering and Offshore). Understandable, given the high tax rates for high earners in most industrialized nations, but nonetheless illegal. The crackdown on this practice is still in full force. As a reaction, private banks have now become the extended arm of the tax authorities and are complied to wash their clients whiter than white - or get rid of them. The bigger the organization, the bigger the compliance department - all of which is paid for with your time and money.
Private bankers either behave like brokers, living off the churn in your portfolio, charging fees and commissions so high that your hat lifts up in the sky. Or they are in-house fund peddlers, getting you into either open (or disguised) standardized investment products cooked up by their asset & fund management divisions. They also love to get you into multi-level products, such as funds-of-funds, where each layer sucks off nice management fees and carried interest. The worst advice seems to be giving your private banker full discretionary authority over your portfolio, which a significant number of newly impoverished former high net-worth individuals can attest to. As such, it is hard to meet a private banker, who has an experience-based, long-term investment strategy which has a good chance of making you money when you look back after a couple of years. Whatever you get as advice is, obviously, paid by the regular fees that you pay for the privilege of having them play around with your money.
What are you getting out of it?
All of the above is essentially meant to help you ask the question: what am I getting out of it? Am I getting a good return on what I am paying? Is there a likelihood that I keep and grow my capital over the years (after subtracting all the fat fees and commissions that I am charged? What do I really need from a private banking relationship?
And as a next step to discuss with us how much private banking you need and what alternative options would be suitable for you.
We hope we have created a bit of edginess now to revisit your private banking relationship. As such, we would be more than happy to discuss ways how to improve or to change it. One strategy - as we have done it - is to unbundle the service offering and pick (and pay) only for the ones you need. Another is to actively address what is lacking - using our support and experience. Contact us for a chat or more information ...
Family Office Set-Up in Estonia
A significant number of wealthy individuals and families have in-sourced asset management and administration services, setting up a dedicated team of investment managers, tax advisors and other support staff, serving their needs in a comprehensive and integrated manner.
Information exchange on optimization using Estonia's advantages
Bernstein Trust could be considered as a similar structure for its founders and Managing Partners. While our outside money management activities are exclusively handled by way of the Bernstein Value & Income Portfolio (BVIP), we would be very interested to co-operate with other family offices on using the advantages of Estonia as a holding and investment location.
In our view, there are many advantages to be gained. If you are interested refer to our Services section for an initial overview or contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bernstein will organize and develop international and/or domestic (Swiss or Estonian) investment holding structures allowing you to generate income and capital gains on your invested assets with minimal tax exposure, in particular when income or gains are not distributed.
We work with your attorneys, estate planners, current banks, and investment advisers, to provide the necessary input for the efficient set-up and integration of our solutions into your overall holding, corporate or investment structures.
Select services as needed, when needed
Our structuring support solutions are based on standardized, modular service components, keeping costs low and implementation efficient. Selecting only what is actually needed based on your specific requirements will get you streamlined results - minimizing future administration, handling and maintenance costs. Contact us to discuss your specific needs and get a first impression how we can help ...
Risk Analysis & Management
Investment and corporate risk is complex – ranging from macro issues such diverse as inflation, weather, currency & interest rates, politics/tax, raw material costs to micro-issues such as D&O, product liability and health hazards. Together with our partner firm ACF Risk Analysis & Management we address those issues and help you with a (tax-optimized) risk management, insurance and coverage approach.
Measuring & controlling
In order to establish your optimal risk management strategy, we develop first analysis, measurement and ultimately control policies, implemented by off-setting trading strategies and active hedging programs.
As an add-on, we provide you with expert opinions on business strategy, trading, valuation, pricing and financial decisions to support legal and regulatory proceedings.
The smart and controlled use of derivatives is both a key component of our investment strategy in the Bernstein Value & Income Portfolio and in our Risk Management activities. Executing, settling and monitoring the required trades is hence one of our core competencies. This encompasses trades involving contracts listed on major futures and options exchanges as well as so-called Over-the-counter or OTC-Derivatives. The latter - although following standard documentation by the International Swap Dealer Association ("ISDA") - are frequently illiquid and finding an actual counterparty willing to trade at all is part of the challenge - which we actually like to get done.
Centralized, confidential settlement
At the same time, clients do not need to disclose complex trading strategies to just one - typically conflicted party - since they can be discreetly and centrally settled by us.
Structuring & set-off
Furthermore, we help you with the structuring and documentation of Over-The-Counter (OTC) options to suit your specific needs and identify the appropriate counterparties to take the other side of the trade.
Handling delicate assignments
As an institution serving our clients with honesty and integrity, Bernstein Trust is your partner of choice for fiduciary relationships in respect to holding and managing assets.
Discretion & confidentiality
In today's world of ever-more intrusive "big government", abusive liability suits, arbitrary divorce settlement rulings and many similar incidents, creating discreet, confidential layers of protection is sometimes advisable. We are very happy to support you with that, stressing at the same time that we follow rigorous compliance and checking routines before handling an assignment.
Once having cleared these routines, we can assure you that we protect your interests like they were ours. We encourage you to get to know us better by starting to invest with us, let us help you to analyse and hedge your risk exposures or set-up an investment company, e.g. in Estonia - so that trust is built step-by-step. We can then talk about more as part of that process ...
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