Private bank account opening in France
If you are living in France or simply have some operations in France where a transfer of funds is necessary, you are required to open a bank account in one of the banks registered in France. France’s banking system can surely be compared to other leading European countries, therefore no matter which bank you choose, you can expect a high-quality service and wide network of branches as well as ATMs in addition to online banking. Largest banks in France include BNP Paribas, Societe General, Credit Agricole, BPCE and Credit Mutuel, in addition to other multinational banks operating in France.
When it comes to the private banking sector, many people think of highly prestigious private banks that are positioned on customers with at least 1 million EUR in financial assets. Meanwhile, France’s private banking is welcoming individuals with financial assets starting from 100 thousand EUR. In fact, private persons who hold between 100 thousand and 1 million EUR represent around 50% of the total investments in the French market. Nevertheless, retail banking holds 75% of the market and almost 1 out of every 2 customers that are eligible for private banking services still tend to seek advice from a retail advisor.
Private banking is either one sector of a banking institution along with retail banking or a separate entity operating in only private banking. Generally, private banking offers a broad range of products and services. In addition to traditional services offered in retail banking, clients of private banking receive more individually designed services – a full range of fund management services, advice on securities, tax-shelter investments, private equity, management under mandate, advice and transactions of investment assets (art, rural property, real estate, etc.) and structuring investments.
Requirements of opening a private bank account in France
The process of opening a private bank account is rather straightforward but sometimes can be catchy as many bankers along with most of the French society do not like to speak English. Although private banking surely considers more the interests and needs of their clients, you should be ready to search for an English speaking private banker to feel comfortable trusting him or her with your assets.
The procedure and requirements tend to differ from bank to bank, but generally, the required documents are as per below:
- Filled and signed application form (generally, in French but some banks offer English translations);
- Copy of a valid passport;
- Copy of a marriage certificate (if applicable);
- Copy of a recent utility bill (generally, not more than 3 months old);
- Proof of income;
- The reservation contract or title of the property in France.
All private banks have a certain minimum amount of assets under management required in order to be able to become a client. As discussed above, you can find a private bank offering to open a private bank account starting from 100 thousand EUR in assets. There are numerous banks in France offering private banking services. Three of them are discussed below.
With more than 100 billion EUR in assets under management and 2,400 employees located in 23 countries, BNP Paribas Private Banking is among the leading private banking organizations worldwide. In France, BNP Paribas is managing around 45 billion EUR and serving 75,000 customers. BNP Paribas brand is the highest valued in France – in 2015, its brand was worth 14.7 billion EUR. It is also a leading bank in Eurozone, ranked 2nd in Europe and 8th globally in 2017.
Banque privée Edmond de Rothschild
Banque privée Edmond De Rothschild was ranked as the best private bank in France in 2016. With headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland it is dedicated to the wealth management of private as well as institutional clients. It was founded in 1923 as Banque privée but was bought by the Rothschild family and is currently a part of the Edmond de Rothschild Group.
Société Générale is a multinational banking institution headquartered in Paris offering a wide range of services including international retail banking, corporate and investment banking, asset management, private banking as well as securities services. Société Générale is the third largest bank in France by total assets and sixth largest in Europe.
Société Générale Private Banking has developed a Centre of Expertise for Wealth Planning and Fiduciary (Trust) Services for global wealth planning. Each year, the centre delivers over 1000 wealth studies in addition to in-house expertise in domestic and international wealth planning.
As mentioned above, when coming to France you have to keep in mind that French people do not like to speak English. Surely, when opening a bank account you want to be understood and be able to communicate freely also if you do not speak French. Therefore, it is highly suggested to make sure that your private manager speaks English or ensure you have a translator before opening an account with a certain bank.
Generally, banks are open from 09:00 to 17:00 in workdays, but some branches tend to have irregular opening hours (for example, half a day) and lunchtime closing is a rather normal appearance. Before opening a private bank account, make sure that the bank has opening hours convenient to you.