A Glimpse of the Life of a Private Banker

By Madison Rose Brenchak | December 2, 2021

From the day I stepped foot inside 390 Madison Avenue, I knew that I wanted to be a JPMorgan Chase & Co. Private Banker. Four years ago, looking back on my first year at Holy Cross, I had no idea where my passion for finance would lead me. It wasn’t until I visited New York City for Finance Bootcamp that I felt that sense of belonging. With the unparalleled commitment of the alumni network from Holy Cross, paired with the Ciocca Center, and finance-related organizations on campus, I felt excited and ready for my pursuits on Wall Street.

Private Banking falls under the Asset and Wealth Management division of an investment bank. It provides specialized financial services and solutions to high net worth (HNW) and ultra-high net worth (UHNW) individuals, families, and estates with a minimum of 5 to 25 million dollars of investable assets. Services are tailored to all facets of financial well-being including: wealth management, banking, lending, investing, portfolio management, tax, and estate planning. It is the combination of applied technical analysis and interpersonal client-facing exposure that convinced me of my vocational calling.

On my first day as a summer analyst at JPMorgan, I was intimidated by the rush of energy I experienced walking through Midtown at 7:15 am. Upon entry through the revolving door, I smiled as I was greeted by Leah, the elevator attendant, who knew I was headed to the 25th floor and always held the door for me. At my desk, I had a few minutes to change from flats to heels, put on my blazer, and check my email. The Pierpont Team floor was still quiet as the Bankers filtered in, just in time for the Morning Meeting.

The Morning Meeting was my favorite part of the day, as everyone gathered on the 28th floor in the studio, with the floor-to-ceiling windows providing a perfect view of the New York City skyline. David Frame, CEO of the U.S. Private Bank, accompanied by various leaders of the firm would often host the meetings to discuss critical market updates and trends in the economy. The youngest analyst, to the most seasoned Managing Director, would be attentive, engaged, and diligently taking notes.

The day became increasingly busier as clients began calling bankers, and the analysts and I began racing to complete client performance reviews, running goals-based analyses, and answering clients’ questions ranging from opening a new brokerage account to how to retire with exactly X amount of money. I was challenged by tailoring my technical proficiency in Excel modeling to my strong communication skills in client meetings and on the phone. Each task was done promptly, thoroughly, and exceptionally by each intern, and reviewed before submitting to the team lead.

The busy days of an intern included all the same tact and workload of a full-time analyst and had no space for mere “coffee runs” for the bankers. Instead, bankers across my team invited me to coffee for conversational meetings and advice as I pursue a career in an industry as competitive as this one. Each coffee meeting with an advisor provided me insight into how to be the best intern I could be each day. I will share a few of their encouraging words and insights below:

  • Read The Intelligent Investor, by Benjamin Graham and Jason Zweig; Unconventional Success: A Fundamental Approach to Personal Investment by David F. Swenson; The House of Morgan by Ron Chernow.

  • Meet with every single person on the team and create a genuine relationship.

  • Always volunteer for the extra task.

  • To gain trust, you need to build a client relationship over time.

  • “You can teach someone how to use a platform or run a model, but you can’t teach someone authenticity.”

  • “When you’re stuck in a rut, and deals aren’t going well, it’s best to call up an old client, laugh, chat, and remember why you became an advisor.”

  • “Never underestimate yourself. A bad day doesn’t define you as an advisor, but always learn from your mistakes. Communication is key.”

  • “You can get to a place where your client focus reflects your own passions and values. There’s one advisor placed in Montana where he likes to ski. All of his clients are skiers.”

  • “It’s the most rewarding when you onboard a client and help them achieve all their dreams as an advisor. And then watch their grandchildren grow up to continue that legacy.”

The workday prevailed long after the advisors left to catch their 4:50 pm trains. Although some nights were long, those were the moments the analysts bonded the most. Looking around the floor, I have never seen a group of people more inclined to help one another. It was lively as ever as projects were completed, final versions of decks were approved, and late-night client concerns were addressed. Leaving the building each day after adding value to a team I loved, I knew my summer’s glimpse into the life of a private banker made a profound impact. It not only fortified my ambition to convert to a full-time analyst, but also to be part of a team that values authenticity and a drive for excellence.

Edited by Maggie Reddington