There are strong major institutional brands in the private wealth industry. In the private banking arena, examples include:
- JP Morgan
- Northern Trust
Among brokerage finds, examples of major institutional brands include:
- Morgan Stanley
- Merrill Lynch
Some of the wealthy find a greater level of comfort in working with advisors at major brands. Still, for a sizable percentage of the wealthy, working with a major brand is nice but hardly essential. The advisors at major brands have institutional limitations enabling smaller high-quality advisory firms to consistently win clients away from them. A limitation, in many cases, is the business model of the major institutional brands.
“We find that many of the advisors at major private banks and wirehouses are not able to deliver the full range of possible services and products,” says Vince Annable, CEO and Founder of VFO Advisory Group and co-author of Your High-Performing Virtual Family Office: Maximizing Your Financial and Personal Lives, “For a portion of wealthy clients, this limitation is not a problem. However, it proves to be a major problem for other wealthy clients and they don’t know what they’re missing. A well-run family office practice can deliver the full range of possibilities customized to individual wealthy clients. We find that the large institutions with their army of advisors are unable to reach this level of expertise.”
Aside from the business model, the ability to take an intensely bespoke approach with wealthy clients is not always possible for many advisors at major institutional brands. According to Peter Sasaki, Managing Member and Family Office expert at Odeon Capital Advisors and co-author of Maximizing Your Single-Family Office: Leveraging the Power of Outsourcing and Stress Testing, “When working with clients with complex business stations or lives, advisors have to be able to rally understand what’s important to them and what’s not in order to provide the best solutions. Discovery is an excellent process for developing a deep understanding of clients. Advisors doing a good job of Discovery is the exception, not the norm. When it comes to the advisors working for major banks or brokerage houses, we don’t see them doing Discovery that produces a deep understanding of clients. Discovery, done well, is an organic iterative process and most advisors are using lists of questions at best.”
Aside from the built-in limitations that can impact the clients of advisors at major institution brands, winning clients from these organizations requires helping them see these limitations. According to Mark Fujiwara, President of Fujiwara Family Office and co-author of Superior Results: Maximizing the Value of Your Family Office Just Like the Super-Rich, “The number one priority for any advisor is to deliver superior results to clients. Most advisors, no matter what their affiliation, are delivering less than optimal and overpriced services and products. Educating clients on how to maximize the value they get from family office and wealth management practices as well as other professionals ensures they can make smarter decisions. These insights regularly help the wealthy understand the weaknesses of many advisors at major institutional brands.”
Advisors with a solid business model such as a finely tuned family office practice coupled with proficiency at core processes such as Discovery combined with a truly client-focused orientation are—with great consistency—able to win clients from major institutional brands. Moreover, for these professionals, there is very little competition. They can win clients from other advisors with amazing consistency.
RUSS ALAN PRINCE is the Executive Director of Private Wealth magazine (pw-mag.com) and Chief Content Officer for High-Net-Worth Genius (hnwgenius.com). He consults with family offices, the wealthy, fast-tracking entrepreneurs, and select professionals.