High touch. A holistic approach. Full service. Wealth managers are quick to emphasize that what they can offer rich clients goes far beyond portfolio allocation and estate planning.
So what do those buzzwords mean in practice? Insiders told us about being called on to find their client a butler, locate a cowboy, or prepare children for the day they have their own board seats.
High- and ultrahigh-net-worth households make up roughly $21.3 trillion, or some 44%, of the total investable assets in the US, according to the most recent data available from the research firm Cerulli Associates. (High net worth generally starts at $1 million, and the low end of ultrahigh is around $20 million to $30 million.)
Many we’ve talked to say the rise of robo-advisers directed at so-called mass-affluent investors doesn’t threaten their core client base. But they are still increasingly aware of the need to show how humans can stand out, and a full-service approach can help justify their steady fees at a time when big and small firms are racing to add head count to cater to the wealthy.
The concierge approach can also help endear managers to their clients’ kids and grandkids, who are set to inherit big money: Cerulli found that $68 trillion is set to transfer in the next 25 years, largely from baby boomers to digital-native heirs.
And a recent survey by Cerulli and the Investment & Wealth Institute, an industry association directed at investment professionals, showed many of the association’s adviser members are changing their services to provide “holistic advice,” and they’re “transforming” accordingly.
Business Insider asked wealth-management executives about their most notable client requests. As advisers need to adhere to client-adviser privacy practices, they did not disclose clients’ names in interviews.
Advisers call also be called upon to help wealthy families with weighty matters.
“So often, we’re the first call when something traumatic happens,” Adrienne Penta, a Boston-based managing director at Brown Brothers Harriman, said about the connections that people working in wealth management can form with clients. “We also have a close relationship with their financial life and how they manage risk.”
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