Centurion Relationship Managers reveal how far they’ve gone to answer the call of duty
Because black is the new platinum
Even if you fit the bill of a high-net-worth individual, there's no guarantee you'll find your name on the American Express Centurion Card. The highly coveted Black Card chooses you. Membership to American Express's top-tier credit card is by invitation only, and more than a decade after its launch in Singapore, Centurion Card hopefuls are still trying to figure out how they can turn their platinum stripes into black.
American Express remains coy about how they select their Card Members. The factors determining membership are closely guarded. The only way to know if you've made the cut is to find the elusive card itself waiting for you at home. But once you do, you'll find yourself waited upon by a Centurion Relationship Manager poised to fulfill your requests — be it the procurement of that Valentino couture dress you saw on the runway or a handcrafted four poster bed for your pet cat. No request is ever met with a 'No' — or not immediately, anyway.
Just how far do these Relationship Managers go to answer their call of duty? We find out from the Relationship Managers themselves. Due to the rampant poaching of Relationship Managers within the banking sector, the names of the Centurion Relationship Managers quoted in this story have been kept secret.
"I received a request for a special gift from a Card Member who asked for help in sourcing for a bottle of 1960 vintage wine. The year of production had to be 1960 as it was meant to be a birthday gift for a friend born in that same year. I located and acquired the $25,000 bottle at the Macallan estate in Scotland — home to some of the world's finest and rarest single malt whiskeys. But this was just the start of a remarkable journey.
Over the next three weeks, our team arranged for the bottle to be shipped to Singapore, Hong Kong, back to Scotland, down to London, then on to Monaco in time for the birthday party. The bottle was almost involved in a road accident in England and seized by customs in two countries. However, the prized tipple arrived for the special birthday celebrations at Joel Robuchon's acclaimed restaurant right on time."
"One of our Card Members wanted to put together a surprise for her husband's 30th birthday. This included five consecutive nights at the best restaurants Dubai had to offer and a full-day Super Car test drive. Each dinner experience was special as he was unaware of additional surprise guests. Everyone was treated to lavish meals while the birthday boy enjoyed special desserts made in advance for the occasion. For the final meal, the dinner included additional surprises such as balloons and a 10-foot long banner to mark the occasion."
Le cronut, s'il vous plaît
"A Card Member was in Manhattan on business and one of her objectives was to sample a cronut from Dominique Ansel Bakery. This was during a time when New York was hooked on cronuts and the line outside the bakery each morning stretched around the block. Faced with a looming deadline and no time to wait in line herself, our Card Member contacted me. Our team found a trusted partner on the ground, who stood in line for our Card Member in the early hours, purchased half a dozen cronuts, and delivered the sweet treats to our Card Member's hotel."
"Due to their busy schedules, many of our Card Members overlook plans for special occasions. Once, a Card Member contacted me on the morning of Valentine's Day to request for a bonsai plant (printed with her fiancée's name) to be delivered to her fiancée in Taipei. The request had to be executed on the same day. After extensive research, our team managed to track down a florist which could deliver this unique gift."
"A Card Member was unable to travel to Milan to collect a rare crocodile Hermès Birkin bag and Panerai watch as he was preoccupied with work and moving into a new home. After months of trying to find someone he trusted to pick them up on his behalf, he had to release the reserved items. At this point, I offered to travel to Europe to pick up the items and bring them back to Singapore. Our travel team made all the travel arrangements and liaised with the retailers to ensure everything was taken care of. Within weeks, I was in Milan, picked up both items in a day and hand-carried the items to Singapore, much to the delight of the Centurion Member."