7 Core Services to Look for from the Best Wealth Management Firms

   by Hutch Ashoo and Chris Snyder · Updated November 2, 2021 · 7 min read ✦

Don’t be fooled.

Too many supposed ‘experts’ take the easy route in trying to identify the best wealth management firms.
Here’s what they do:

They just look at assets under management (AUM). The more, the merrier, or so the thinking goes.
If you want the best tool for identifying top firms, grab a copy of our signature guide, 7 Secrets to High Net Worth Investment Management, Estate, Tax and Financial Planning.

STRATEGIES FOR FAMILIES WORTH $5 MILLION TO $500 MILLION

 

7 Secrets To High Net Worth Investment Management, Estate, Tax and Financial Planning

 

The insights you’ll discover from our published book will help you integrate a variety of wealth management tools with financial planning, providing guidance for your future security alongside complex financial strategies, so your human and financial capital will both flourish.

Clients frequently share with us how the knowledge gained from this book helped provide them tremendous clarity, shattering industry-pitched ideologies, while offering insight and direction in making such important financial decisions.

Now, you might be wondering:

What are assets under management?

It’s the total combined value of all assets and investments – including non-financial assets – being managed by a wealth management company.

And here’s an eye-opening truth:

AUM has almost nothing to do with how well a wealth management company serves its ultra high net worth clients.

Why?

Well, picture a big bank that already exists and serves the banking needs for millions of average people. One day, that bank decides to “get into” wealth management.

That bank doesn’t have the best people suddenly working for their brand new wealth management division.

Their wealth managers are new. Their processes have just been developed.

But they have brand power, and because of that, they will relatively quickly amass a large AUM and can then claim to be one of the largest wealth management firms every year.

Do you get it?

They might be managing a lot of assets, but their wealth management service wasn’t built from the ground up to exclusively serve families with ultra-high net worth. They are, more or less, figuring it out as they go, at least for the first few years.

All that to say:

Assets under management is possibly the worst metric to use if you’re trying to find the top wealth management companies in the US.Tweet: AUM is possibly the worst possible metric to evaluate wealth management companies

You want true expertise. You want professional allies who understand your unique situation and work to ensure its success, even beyond your lifetime.

What can you do to find this?

This post will help you figure out if a prospective wealth management company is even worth your time to investigate.

7 Core Services of Top Private Wealth Management Firms

There are seven services that all the best wealth management firms will provide to their high net worth and ultra-high net worth clients as part of their basic service.

Those seven services are:

1.  Asset Allocation Analysis

2. Wealth Transfer

3. Tax Management

4. Investment Management

5. Risk Management

6. Cash Flow Planning

7. Retirement Planning

Schedule a free consultation and see how much more than just these 7 basic services you get from PillarWM.

wealth management companies

1. Asset Allocation Analysis

News flash:

Asset allocation is the most important component in any financial or investment plan.Tweet: Asset allocation is the most important component in any financial plan

This has been demonstrated in multiple studies, the most famous of which is discussed in our signature guide, 7 Secrets to High Net Worth Investment Management, Estate, Tax and Financial Planning.

What is asset allocation?

Asset allocation refers to the manner in which your investments are disbursed into various types of securities and asset classes, such as equities, bonds, commodities, index funds, private equity, and many others. Typically, it is simplified down to a ratio showing the percentages allocated to stocks and bonds.

For example: 70% stocks, 30% bonds, or 70/30.

A smart asset allocation depends upon several factors, including:

Risk tolerance
Time horizon
Your specific goals and plans for life, family, retirement, business, and philanthropy

But here’s the kicker:

Too many wealth management firms just slap percentages to this and call it a day.

For instance:

For an ‘aggressive’ portfolio, invest 90% of your assets in stocks, and 10% in bonds. But for a moderately aggressive one, we’ll reduce it to 80/20. More conservative? Let’s do 60/40.

Do you see the problem with this?

It’s vague. It’s generic. It’s cookie-cutter.

And here’s the worst part:

It’s oversimplified. Asset allocation is far more than just a couple percentages. If it were that simple to get right, wouldn’t everyone be winning?

And here’s the unpleasant surprise:

This is what you’ll get from many of the largest wealth management banks and companies – even the ones who will tell you that they don’t do cookie cutter investment plans.

They’ll listen to your story, talk about your future, and have a great conversation with you, talking up how well they customize plans for each investor.

And then they’ll trot out an 80/20 asset allocation and pat themselves on the back.

You need much more than oversimplified, generic, overly risky, cookie-cutter asset allocations.

Top wealth management firms like PillarWM will have a more reliable, customized process for creating asset allocations for each of their ultra-high net worth clients.

For more about asset allocation, read our book 7 Secrets To High Net Worth Investment Management, Estate, Tax and Financial Planning – Strategies For Families Worth $25 Million To $500 Million.

best wealth management banks

2. Wealth Transfer

Do you have an estate plan?

Guess what:

A shocking percentage of people don’t – including those with ultra-high net worth.

We’ve had people come to our office who have nine figures of wealth and no plan for what should happen to it after they’re gone.

If you have a business, the urgency for developing an exit strategy as part of an estate plan is even greater.

Business exit strategies are about much more than transferring ownership. It’s also about sustaining the business for whoever owns it next – if that’s your intention.

Top wealth management firms like PillarWM understand how to help ultra-high net worth clients and business owners transfer their wealth during and after their lives when key life events take place.

This falls under the broader umbrella of family and business governance – part of a family office service that comes standard with our particular service.

And you know what’s crazy?

That’s something you will hardly find anywhere.

Register for a free consultation to discuss your situation with a wealth management expert.

wealth management firms

3. Tax Management

Staying compliant with taxes while also minimizing their effect on your wealth takes ongoing, continuous attention. It is not easy, and the challenges shift depending on your life situation – especially after retirement.

And here’s the rub:

If you mess it up and fail to meet your legal tax obligations, you can face hefty fines, or worse, depending on the infraction. Top wealth management firms pay close attention to your tax situation to make sure you aren’t overpaying or missing out on big savings.

At Pillar Wealth Management, we make sure all your tax obligations are met, and we obsess about how to minimize them in all situations.

Our clients save hundreds of thousands of dollars when they entrust this and other wealth management tasks to our expert advisors.

best wealth management companies

4. Investment Management

For ultra-high net worth families, managing your investments so you maximize performance while minimizing risk can be all-consuming.

It requires:

Understanding portfolio management
Defining your investment beliefs and principles
Focusing on particular asset classes that are best for you
Buying, selling, and trading at the right times and in the most optimal manner
Working with non-financial assets like art, property, and business
Mitigating risk
Ensuring long term success and security
Building around your goals, not just a rate of return

Read our helpful guide to learn more about how you can maximize your portfolio.

Top wealth management firms like PillarWM use proven, time-test processes for achieving all this for each of their clients.

Is it time-consuming?

Yes! That’s why, in our case, we only accept a maximum of 17 new clients per year. Are you starting to see why AUM is a poor measure of service quality?

Quantity does not equal quality.

And guess what:

Some years, we don’t accept any, because we refuse to compromise the ongoing quality of service we provide to our clients.

Have us create a free customized portfolio plan for you.

largest wealth management firms

5. Risk Management

Let’s get one thing straight:

Risk management matters. A lot.

The scale of potential loss from a market crash on an ultra-high net worth portfolio is unfathomable to 99% of people.Tweet: The scale of potential loss from a market crash on an UHNW portfolio is unfathomable to 99% of people

The best wealth management firms will be able to specifically articulate how they manage risks to your investments.

You must demand this from every wealth manager you speak with.

But what do most large wealth management companies do?

They consider risk tolerance a feeling of yours, and do little to actually incorporate it in a customized way into your plan. 

At Pillar Wealth Management, we can help you formulate strategies to minimize the harm from extreme events – both foreseen and unforeseen.

Please read our guide for investors with $10 million or more to learn why risk tolerance shouldn’t be the most influential factor in your investment plan.

top wealth management companies

6. Cash Flow Planning

Trivia time:

Which common financial concept is the most unknown and unheard of?

Answer:

Cash flow.

Investors with ultra-high net worth have very complicated finances. Income is often arriving from all sorts of places, far too many to keep track of.

Likewise, expenses are going out to more places than you can easily pay attention to.

And once you retire, the whole game changes.

Managing your cash flow is an essential part of wealth management, and all the top wealth management companies must have a proven process for helping you with this.

And don’t forget:

They must manage your cash flow in a customized manner. Managing cash flow properly is a key to ensuring the lifelong security of your assets – especially in retirement.Tweet: Managing cash flow properly is a key to ensuring lifelong financial security

And that brings us to:

wealth management firm

7. Retirement Planning

The last core service to expect from any top wealth management firm is retirement planning.

What happens once you retire?

Your income situation completely changes. You’re now dependent on your investments to fund your lifestyle.

Plus, your life ambitions will probably change. You might want to use your money in ways you never have before.

At that point, you might be wondering:

How can I know if I can safely embark on new ventures in retirement?

Your wealth manager should be able to definitively calculate the probability of success and risk regarding any new plans in retirement.Tweet: A wealth manager should be able to calculate probability of success and risk for any new plan

With the right strategies, you might be able to increase your wealth, even after you retire. Please read this quick guide to learn more about strategies that can increase your portfolio.

So What Are the Top Wealth Management Firms?

So now you get it:

There is way more to finding the best wealth management firms than just looking at assets under management.

That said, you’re probably a tiny bit curious about who are the largest wealth management firms in the world.

For fun, here’s a list based on AUM figures from 2020.

Top 10 Ranking List of The Largest Wealth Management Firms in the World

1. UBS Wealth Management

With $2.6 trillion of AUM, UBS Wealth Management has hundreds of branch locations in the United States as well as over 50 other countries.

But here’s the problem:

UBS mostly serves corporations, institutional investors, and governments. They are not a private wealth management company, and do not specialize in the 7 core services listed earlier, or in the customized approach most suitable for ultra-high net worth families.

2. Credit Suisse

Credit Suisse manages $1.25 trillion.

But there’s a problem with this one too:

In 2015 they abandoned both wealth management and private banking in the US.

Think you’re missing out because the two biggest wealth management firms aren’t even attempting to serve ultra-high net worth families like you?

You’re not.

Private, independent wealth management will serve you far better than these large firms.

Want proof?

See our in-depth investigation of three large US wealth management services.

3. Morgan Stanley Wealth Management

Morgan Stanley is a US firm and it manages about $1.24 trillion in assets.

4. Bank of America Global Wealth & Investment Management

Banks of America Global Wealth & Investment Management oversees about $1.22 trillion in assets. It includes Bank of America Private Bank and Merrill Lynch Wealth Management.

But there’s a problem here too:

Their minimum investable asset requirement is just $250,000.

Why is that a problem?

Because it shows that they are not a true wealth management firm and are not customizing their service at the level you will need. High net worth doesn’t begin until you have at least $1 million ready to invest, and ultra-high net worth begins around $25 million.

Pillar Wealth Management’s minimum investment amount is $5 million.

5. JP. Morgan Private Bank

Private banking is not the same thing as wealth management, as this article explains.

So, while JP Morgan Private Bank manages $677 billion of assets, much of this is not in the personalized, customized portfolio planning and investment management style that you as an ultra-high net worth investor are expecting after reading about the 7 core services in this post.

6. Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs is another US firm and has around $558 billion in assets under management.

7. Charles Schwab

A discount brokerage firm that also offers wealth management, Schwab Private Client manages around $506 billion.

Schwab is one of the firms we investigated in great detail to understand how they serve clients with ultra-high net worth. See how Schwab serves affluent clients.

8. Citi Private Bank

With $500 billion of AUM, Citi Private Bank has a $25 million minimum investment requirement, so this is a true wealth management service.

One thing though:

They specialize in serving law firms, and will waive that requirement for them. Thus, their primary service model is not built to serve individuals with ultra-high net worth.

Here’s the bottom line:

Serving ultra-high net worth individuals is hard to do using large corporate systems and processes. They are inherently impersonal, when personalization is what you need the most.

That’s a theme running through all ten wealth management companies on this list.

9. BNP Paribas Wealth Management

BNP Paribas manages $424 billion of AUM and is based in France, but serves 72 other countries too. They are also a bank – the largest in Europe.

10. Julius Baer

Located in 28 countries, Julius Baer has $423 billion in assets under management.

And once again:

This is not the type of wealth management that you are looking for if you’re an ultra-high net worth individual living in the US. This is a private bank, and they generate income from commissions and service fees.

Pillar Wealth Management charges no commissions and has the most clear and simplified fee structure possible. One fee covers everything.

How PillarWM Exceeds All These Firms

At Pillar Wealth Management, we have positioned ourselves as a premier wealth management firm for several reasons.

Here are three of the main ones:

Experience

It’s very easy to underestimate the importance of working with an experienced wealth management firm.

With a newbie, you’re placing your assets at higher risk, because that person is learning on the job.

And you are their guinea pig.

Have they been through market turmoil?

Have they seen its effect on ultra-high net worth portfolios?

Do they have specific, proven processes and systems in place to mitigate the costs of market volatility on your investments?

At Pillar Wealth Management, we have more than 60 years of experience providing exclusive services to high net worth and ultra-high net worth individuals.

We’ve been through the big booms and crashes of the last few decades. And we protected our clients’ wealth far more successfully than these firms with their big AUM figures.

We can help you make well-informed investment decisions to ensure that you accomplish your financial goals.

Personalized Service

We take pride in offering personalized service to each client. We place extremely high importance on listening to and understanding your individual preferences and needs before giving you financial advice.

Our fiduciary financial advisors spend a lot of time studying your finances and use a holistic approach before developing any investment strategy.

Plus:

We are Registered Investment Advisors (RIA) as well as fiduciaries. So we are bound to codes and laws that you can trust from the very beginning.

Increasing Your Net Worth

High net worth and ultra-high net worth individuals often seek wealth management firms’ services to secure their wealth.

Pillar Wealth Management not only protects your wealth, but also works to grow it.

This is especially important for investors who have not yet retired. However, this is critical for those who have hit retirement and are depending on their assets for income.

Why Select Pillar Wealth Management?

At Pillar Wealth Management, we work with clients who have $5 million to $500 million in liquid assets.

With over 30 years of experience across the board, our wealth managers will perform a comprehensive assessment and analysis of your current portfolio and create 100% customized strategies to exceed your financial goals. Sign up for a completely free consultation with our wealth managers to learn more.

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