The word "private", in private banking is mostly a reference to minimizing taxes via careful allocation of assets. Offshore bank accounts can be used for this purpose. Also it alludes to private equity, which is essentially share ownership of a company not availble for the general public to buy in a stock market. Private Banking clients are usually given special opportunities to invest in these, along with special IPO opportunities.
Private Banking usually combines trust services, investment services, banking services, and tax services.
The largest private bank is Union Bank of Switzerland.
As of 2000, the amount on deposit with private banks in the world was about 1.3 x 1013 (13 trillion) dollars. To put that in perpective, the amount of assets that the largest United States bank has was about 1.3 trillion, and the total amount of printed cash in the United States at the time was 6 trillion.
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