The 8 Best Private Banking Services in Canada

By Arthur Dubois | Published on 11 Sep 2023

Female customer making a purchase with phone and credit card.

    In Canada, private banking isn’t just another service. This exclusive suite of financial solutions exists specifically for high-net-worth individuals (HNWI). These individuals have more than $1 million in investable assets. In 2022, HNWI made up more than 350,000 of Canada’s 40 million residents. 

    To win the business of the wealthy, banks elevate their offerings well beyond standard banking services. For those who qualify, this specialized form of banking provides an enticing array of perks. This article will detail the top services you should expect and explain who qualifies for these exclusive offerings. Further, we identify the top Canadian banks that deliver the most value to their high-net-worth clients.

    Let’s get started. 

    The Rise of Affluence in Canada

    Recent reports indicate a steady rise in the number of high-net-worth individuals in Canada. Overall, this group has grown at a rate of more than 22% between 2011 and 2021. With total financial assets exceeding the $1 trillion mark, the affluent demographic in Canada is robust and expanding. In fact, Canada is within the top 10 destinations for an inflow of HNWI migration. 

    These individuals are increasingly seeking specialized services that can effectively manage their substantial assets, and private banking answers this call.

    Who Is Eligible for Private Banking in Canada?

    In Canada, private banking is not a service open to just anyone; there are specific criteria to be met. These criteria often include a minimum amount of assets or deposits, typically starting in the range of $1 million CAD. 

    It’s also worth noting that eligibility can extend beyond mere financial metrics. Many private banking services target a particular clientele. For example, they single out C-suite executives, successful entrepreneurs, professionals like doctors and lawyers, and family offices managing generational wealth. Some banks even offer specialized private banking services for athletes and entertainers. Overall, they recognize the unique financial challenges and opportunities these individuals face.

    What to Look for When Choosing a Private Banking Offering

    Selecting the right private banking service is an essential step for high-net-worth individuals looking to optimize their financial affairs. With a myriad of options available in Canada, making the right choice can be challenging. Here are some key considerations to guide you in making an informed decision. 

    Dedicated Relationship Manager

    Crucially, private banking focuses on the quality of the relationship you’ll have with your dedicated private banker. This individual will be your main point of contact for everything from credit solutions to investment advice. Make sure this person is not just knowledgeable but also accessible, transparent, and aligned with your financial goals.

    Range of Services

    Consider the breadth of services offered. Does the bank provide a comprehensive range of services that meet your particular needs? This could include everything from wealth management and investment advice to specialized credit solutions and international services. The more tailored these services are to your individual needs, the better.

    Fees and Charges

    Private banking services come with various costs. Its monthly fixed fees typically start around $100. As well, brace for asset management fees, commonly around 1% of assets under management per year. However, the fee structure is negotiable to some extent, especially for clients with significant investable assets. Some private banks may offer to waive or reduce fees based on the size of a client’s deposits or investments. 

    Technology and Accessibility

    In today’s digital age, having a robust online platform is a must. This includes a user-friendly interface for routine transactions and more sophisticated tools for portfolio management, analytics and real-time updates.

    By taking these factors into account, you can identify the private banking offering that is best suited to you. That way, you can achieve your financial objectives while enjoying a personalized banking experience.

    Canada’s 8 Best Private Banking Services 

    BMO Private Wealth

    BMO’s Private Wealth website doesn’t specify minimum eligibility criteria. However, based on market standards, it is likely comparable to those of RBC (around $1 million CAD). Notably, BMO has received numerous awards, including the Best Private Bank in Canada for 2020, Further, it received consistent recognition from the World Finance Banking Awards between 2011 and 2023. 

    In terms of services, BMO’s Private Wealth business includes BMO Private Banking, BMO Private Investment Counsel, and BMO Nesbitt Burns. Together, these businesses offer cash management, investments, credit and lending, wealth planning and estate planning. 

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    RBC Private Banking

    RBC’s private banking services are available to individuals who have a minimum of $1 million in investable assets or a net worth of $3 million. The bank provides a comprehensive suite of offerings that include cash management, credit and lending services, as well as specialized cross-border banking options (typically dealing with U.S. Dollars). Clients also have the opportunity to work on their financial planning either through a dedicated private banker or an advisor within RBC’s network. 

    RBC’s Private Banking service has a monthly fee of $125. Additional fees may apply for investments and other asset management services. 

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    CIBC Private Wealth

    CIBC doesn’t publicly state the minimum requirements to be eligible for its private banking services, but they are likely similar to those of RBC. In terms of services, CIBC Private Banking offers cash management, investments, credit and lending, and comprehensive wealth planning. 

    Unique to CIBC is the explicit mention of introductions to specialists outside of your primary private banker, such as experts in estate planning and insurance under the financial planning category. It’s also great to see all of CIBC’s private bankers in one place on their website where customers can reach out to a banker directly. 

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    TD Private Wealth

    TD’s private banking services are tailored to individuals with over $1,000,000 CAD in investable assets with TD. The bank’s focus areas include liquidity, deposit solutions, payment solutions, and services designed specifically for business owners. 

    In addition to these, TD also offers investment management, estate planning, wealth planning services and cross-border banking. While their prices are not explicitly detailed on their website, it can be expected for their monthly fee to be around $100. 

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    Scotiabank Private Banking

    Scotiabank’s private banking offers a suite of services comparable to those of other top-tier banks, but it also differentiates itself in several key ways. For starters, new clients are welcomed with fee waivers on top-tier Scotiabank credit cards, preferred foreign exchange rates, and bonus points, all of which add another dimension to the private banking experience. Beyond these offerings, clients also have exclusive access to “Scotiabank Pursuits,” a concierge and travel management service. 

    Scotiabank’s “Total Wealth Credit Solution” also integrates advice from tax and investment advisors, offering a more interdisciplinary approach to wealth management. Scotiabank has been recognized as the best private bank in Canada by Global Finance and has also garnered the title of the best private bank globally for individuals with a net worth ranging from $1 million to $24.9 million.

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    National Bank Private Banking 1859

    National Bank Private Banking 1859 offers a high level of personalized service geared towards high-net-worth individuals and families. Though National Bank is the sixth largest bank in Canada and primarily serves the Quebec market, it has significantly expanded its private banking sector to include a presence in major cities like Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary.

    The bank excels in white-glove service and provides a range of offerings, from specialized day-to-day banking to complex lending options. A standout feature is their Private Banking 1859 World Elite MasterCard, which comes with concierge services. While the eligibility criteria are not explicitly mentioned, the specialized services suggest they are tailored for affluent clients. The bank takes a consultative approach to financial planning, incorporating every facet of your financial life, from immediate needs to long-term goals.

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    Manulife Private Wealth

    Manulife Private Banking offers a comprehensive suite of financial services targeted toward high-net-worth individuals. The institution is known for its robust investment and wealth management offerings, taking a global approach to diversifying your portfolio. Although they do not explicitly outline eligibility criteria, their specialized and expansive services are clearly aimed at a clientele with significant assets to manage.

    ATB Private Banking

    ATB Financial is a financial establishment and Crown corporation that is entirely owned by the province of Alberta, making the province the sole province in Canada to have exclusive ownership of such a financial institution.

    ATB’s private banking is a premier choice for Alberta’s wealthy residents. It offers a comprehensive range of services, from wealth management to specialized credit solutions. One of its most compelling features is its unparalleled level of deposit security. While the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) insures deposits up to $100,000, ATB goes a step further. It provides a 100% deposit guarantee, backed by the provincial government of Alberta, making it an exceptionally secure option for those who have deposits exceeding the CDIC’s limit. This robust safety net is a significant draw for Alberta’s affluent population. 

    FAQs About Private Banking in Canada

    What is private banking in Canada? 

    Private banking in Canada is a specialized service that offers a suite of financial solutions tailored to high-net-worth individuals. Unlike regular banking, private banking focuses on personalized financial consultation, wealth management, estate planning, and investment guidance. Clients usually work one-on-one with their private banker and are often provided with a more exclusive, comprehensive approach to financial management, which can include perks such as concierge services and specialized lending options.

    What is a private banker in Canada? 

    A private banker in Canada is a dedicated financial advisor who serves as the primary point of contact for high-net-worth individuals availing themselves of private banking services. The private banker offers customized financial advice, manages a portfolio of financial products, and provides access to an array of specialized financial services. Their role is not just transactional but also consultative, aimed at providing a holistic financial strategy tailored to each client’s specific needs and goals.

    How to qualify for private banking in Canada? 

    To qualify for private banking in Canada, an individual typically needs to meet certain financial criteria, such as having a minimum amount of investable assets or a certain net worth. The threshold often starts at around $1 million CAD in investable assets. However, eligibility can also depend on other factors like career, family wealth, and financial complexity. Some banks extend their private banking services to specific clientele like executives, entrepreneurs, professionals in various fields, and even entertainers and athletes, recognizing their unique financial challenges.

    Is private banking worth it in Canada? 

    The value of private banking in Canada largely depends on an individual’s financial circumstances, needs, and expectations. For high-net-worth individuals with complex financial portfolios, private banking can offer significant advantages in the form of personalized financial advice, investment management, and tax optimization strategies. The convenience of having a dedicated private banker and a tailored suite of services could make managing wealth more efficient and possibly more profitable. However, the costs associated with private banking, such as monthly service fees, may not justify the benefits for those with simpler financial needs or lower asset levels.

    What are the benefits of private banking in Canada? 

    The benefits of private banking in Canada are numerous and often customized to the individual’s specific financial situation. High-net-worth clients can expect personalized financial planning, asset management, and investment advisory services. Additional perks can include more favorable loan rates, exclusive investment opportunities, and a range of concierge services to make daily financial management more convenient. Often, a private banker acts as a one-stop-shop for all financial needs, coordinating with specialists in tax planning, estate planning, and even philanthropic giving, which can be a substantial advantage for busy individuals or those with diverse assets and interests.

    Is wealth management the same thing as private banking in Canada? 

    While the terms “wealth management” and “private banking” are sometimes used interchangeably, they are not exactly the same in Canada. Wealth management is a broader term that encompasses a range of financial services such as investment advice, tax planning, and estate planning, among others. Private banking is a subset of wealth management and is more focused on providing personalized banking services to high-net-worth individuals, such as tailored financial products and exclusive investment opportunities. Typically, private banking involves a more holistic approach to managing an individual’s entire financial picture, often involving a dedicated private banker to manage the relationship.

    How does private banking work in Canada? 

    In Canada, private banking is a specialized service offered to high-net-worth individuals who meet certain eligibility criteria, often defined by a minimum amount of investable assets or net worth. Once qualified, clients are typically assigned a dedicated private banker who acts as the primary point of contact for a range of financial services. This can include personalized investment advice, specialized credit options, and priority access to other financial products and services. Private bankers work closely with other financial experts such as tax advisors, estate planners, and investment specialists to offer a comprehensive financial strategy tailored to the client’s specific needs and goals.

    Arthur Dubois is a personal finance writer at Hardbacon. Since relocating to Canada, he has successfully built his credit score from scratch and begun investing in the stock market. In addition to his work at Hardbacon, Arthur has contributed to Metro newspaper and several other publications