The private banking industry is constantly growing and evolving in Asia, with an ever-increasing demand for the right leaders to inspire and create change. Trust and expertise may be the basic tenets of the industry; however, client and employee needs are constantly evolving, and banks need to evolve with the times.

Increasingly savvy and well-informed clients want more from their private bankers. They expect a financial services partner who is engaged and involved, who understands what drives them, and manages their wealth accordingly.

Banks which successfully attract talent over the coming years will be best placed to attract clients. However, the tussle for banking talent is fierce — a recent survey by Asian Private Banker found that human resource requirements would have the greatest influence on the private banking industry in Asia in the next 12 months.

Collaborative style

In this current and increasingly volatile economy, we are seeing rapid geo-political and economic shifts. Complex business environments require adaptable leaders and teams. Private banks need to evolve from an “individual” style to one of collaboration.

To attract and retain highly engaged and top-performing professionals who can adapt to change quickly, company culture and leaders need to be transformational.

Transformational leaders have the ability to inspire and create change by understanding their colleagues, improving morale and performance, and being sensitive to their needs and issues. They are excellent role models and constantly inspire the people who work with them.

Such leaders are characterised by the four “Is”:

* Identification

* Inspiration

* Intellectual stimulation

* Individual consideration

Transformational leaders identify with their co-workers. Their charisma and authenticity spark enthusiasm, garner respect and build confidence among their co-workers.

They are inspirational — they not only have compelling visions, but are also able to share and inspire the same vision in their co-workers by encouraging engagement.

Individuals are also intellectually stimulated by transformational leaders who regularly suggest new perspectives by challenging them to question traditional ways of doing things, encouraging them to be innovative and approaching old problems in new ways.

Leaders who are transformational also give their co-workers individual consideration, responding to their specific and unique needs and supporting them as a trusted coach and mentor.

In contrast, transactional leaders tend to be focused on hierarchy and processes. While there is a time and place for both styles, it is the transformational leader who drives excellence in today’s private banking environment.

The four “Is” of a transformational leader  are essential for setting the tone for the right kind of leadership and for driving high performance in an organisation. It is not just employees that demand this — clients do as well. It is therefore crucial that private banks deliver value for clients by coming up with well-rounded, high-quality advice, and service delivered by small teams of experts, led by leaders who inspire and effect change.

Common vision

Leaders of organisations need to have a mind-set and approach that are able to pull disparate teams together, making them work towards a common vision.  They need to be passionate and credible about their bank’s strategy and they have to be seen as role models by their co-workers.

Private banks must look for leaders who continuously inspire and engage individuals to create a stimulating environment. Clariden Leu, a Swiss private bank, believes that the culture of a company and its cultivation of leaders play key roles in an organisation, and to that end, the bank has established a mix of off-site programmes and coaching sessions to train staff and equip them with the right leadership skills.

While having specific role models or leadership traits in mind can provide a guide for focused vision, a vision that is not shared by the team ultimately fails. It is important to involve the team to influence and mould the vision, ensuring that it reflects their values.

A good vision has to be flexible — leaders need to constantly assess their vision to see if it is moving the team in the right direction. Transformational leaders should not be afraid to make changes to their vision as the team changes and evolves.