Excess material is never a good substitute for clear, transparent and relevant advice.

A few hours spent disposing of institutional client presentations can trigger significant memories.
     Years ago, I tried to amuse my high school classics professor by offering to carry his heavy briefcase for him, “so that you may spend your energies thinking and not on your arm.” “Be careful not to become too much an arm yourself, if you know what I mean!”, he shot back.
     That lesson is lost on most private bankers. As one example among many, I once had a colleague who was notorious for the massive presentation booklets he carried everywhere in his black Tumi roller. If it weren’t for his remarkable arrogance he could have passed for Linus and his trailing blanket.

What exactly do people like my former colleague carry with them that is so precious? I’ve written about the trouble with information overload here. It’s worth returning to the topic from a strictly material point of view because we should all strive to do our best to save the planet.

A common client presentation is usually composed of the following:

Front cover [plastic or cardboard; with embossed logo and founding year]
-Introduction/index [1-2 pages]
Blank page [“This Page Intentionally Left Blank”]
-Account name and coverage team contacts [1-2 pp]
-Account balances and allocation [1 p]
-Performance [1-2 pp]
Separator [picture of a painting]
-Organizational mission [1+ p; “our” people are important]
Separator [picture of another painting]
-Asset allocation [1-2 pp]
-Asset allocation evolution [2+ pp; several graphs]
-Currency allocation [1 p]
Separator [picture of print next to the elevator]
-Holdings [10+ pp]
-Transactions [4-5 pp]
-Capital flows [5-10 pp]
Separator [picture of a sculpture in the backyard]
-Other information [5-10 pp; more graphs; comparisons; pie charts]
Separator [picture of sunflowers]
-Markets, economic and financial reviews and forecasts [10-20 pp]
Separator [picture of photograph next to the executive toilets]
-Worldwide locations [1-2 pp]
-Worldwide contacts [1 p]
Separator [picture of a high-speed sailboat, with the crew all with sun glasses]
-Bonus Page(s) [1+ p; for special-edition presentations or important anniversaries (theirs, not yours); picture of founder and his wife, and maybe some children]
-Legal & Compliance [10+ pp]
Back Cover [plastic or cardboard]

Does anyone seriously think all this information is necessary? For the male private banker – do you feel emasculated if you show up with three-pagers? Details on any account review can be provided later or through a laptop or tablet. This observation should suffice to avoid the indiscriminate printing of booklets just to fill the table at client meetings.
     Besides, once the presentation is over and everyone has gone home, what do you do with the stuff? Disposing of it takes hours, as I mentioned; it’s a job for an expert in recycling sciences to do it properly – and don’t forget a good shredder for obliterating names and account numbers.

Next time you set a meeting with your banker, please ask to receive any material electronically in advance and to discuss it with you on a tablet. A thousand trees will quietly thank you for it.

Roberto Plaja 

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