Sh4m minimum balance: Now that's StanChart premium banking

Standard Chartered Bank of Kenya last year spent Sh205.63 million on redundancies.

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Standard Chartered Bank will downgrade its Kenyan customers from its affluent banking status, known as Priority Banking, if they fail to maintain a minimum account balance of Sh4 million, deposit Sh4 million monthly or apply for a mortgage worth at least Sh12 million, as it raises the bar for its customers to enjoy one of its most prestigious retail banking product.

The lender has given its customers the alternative of either investing Sh4 million or having a combined monthly average of Sh4 million in deposits and investments to continue enjoying the priority services.

In a communication to its priority banking customers -- StanChart said customers who will not meet the requirements will be moved to its Premium status at the end of the year.

“To continue enjoying your priority banking status and benefits, we encourage you to maintain one of the above criteria. Should you not qualify for priority banking at the end of this year, we will migrate you to premium banking where a premium executive will be at hand to assist you with all your banking needs,” the lender said in the October 10 communication to customers.

The lender defines priority banking as an affluent banking proposition created to support clients grow their wealth and achieve financial freedom. The service targets leaders of business or senior managers with a variety of services not accessible to other customers. Entry into priority banking requires one to have a monthly net salary of Sh300,000.

The lender does not expressly state that having Sh4 million as account balance, investing Sh4 million or taking a Sh12 million mortgage is a condition for subscribing to its priority banking, but instead states that such clients are “encouraged” to have that.

“The main goal of Priority Banking is to grow the client’s wealth. The exercise of assessing clients is completed annually. There has not been a change of this criterion for at least 10 years. Clients are encouraged to have Asset Under Management in Investments or Deposits or both of Sh4 million and above or home loan of Sh12 million and above,” said Paul Njoki, the lender’s head of wealth management, Kenya and East Africa.

The lender says the exercise is part of its commitment “to build a closer understanding of our client needs and in line with industry trends and customer feedback.

“This entails reviewing the products that we offer in alignment with market changes to ensure the client receives the best experience with our bank. We recently wrote to our clients to update them on enhancements to the Priority category, which is an exercise we undertake every year,” Mr Njoki said.

“We, therefore, invite clients to have detailed conversations with their relationship managers and to agree on the best outcome based on the client’s needs and aspirations. I would emphasize ‘aspirations’ as the Priority relationship is geared to achieving the client’s life goals.”

The move comes barely a month since the lender shut down business accounts of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises that failed to maintain monthly cash flows of at least Sh10 million, an action it termed as one that was based on their utilisation.

“A number of the affected accounts are inactive, which causes a risk to our clients and the bank,” the Bank’s Head of Consumer, Private and Business Banking in Kenya and East Africa, Edith Chumba, said at the time.

Mr Njoki said the priority banking changes are separate from the one that affected business banking clients “whose accounts were inactive.”

In the Standard Chartered Group’s 2022 annual report, the lender’s chairman Jose Vinals pointed out that the lender was in the process of generating “affluent clients of the future.”

It reported in 2022 that its active affluent wealth clients grew by five percent to 857,000 while noting that among measures for awards this year to 2025, touching on clients, would be “delivering growth in affluent wealth client activity.”

Kenya is one of StanChart’s big markets in the Africa and Middle East region, delivering 10 percent of the incomes it generated from the region last year.

Its priority banking also comes with access to a broad range of investment options, timely global market views from its pool of global economists, a home motor and travel insurance and an infinite visa card that has VIP airport lounge access and multi-trip travel insurance, where it says clients will have privileged access to life’s elite indulgences. Its customers also enjoy a complimentary round of golf every month at the Karen Country Club.

“These banking professionals help the client navigate the complex financial landscape and constantly offer tailor-made solutions that addresses specific clients’ needs and that are matched to the specific client’s risk appetite. Priority banking proposition also comes with dedicated priority centres, rewards and travel benefits,” the bank explained in a response to the Business Daily.

Priority banking is just one of the five retail banking products offered by the bank alongside personal banking and employee banking products which do not have a minimum balance requirement.

Its other products targeting the effluent include premium banking that targets clients with young families and have high demands in their careers.

It also offers international banking that targets clients investing or moving overseas.

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