Top Wealth Management Firms
7 Core Services to Look for from the Top Wealth Management Firms
by Hutch Ashoo and Chris Snyder · Updated Aug 31, 2022 · 8 min read ✦
Don’t be fooled.
Too many supposed ‘experts’ take the easy route in trying to identify the top 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. That’s why we put together a great guide to help you evaluate the top wealth management firms and what you should look for in the way they deliver services to you. Click here to request your wealth management guide.
Finding the top wealth management firm to manage your assets in retirement isn’t something to delay or leave to chance. Discover how to identify which firms will best suit your family’s needs, wants, and goals – click the button to request our free comprehensive guide.
Top 10 Wealth Management Firms by AUM
BlackRock was founded in 1988 and currently has about 15,000 employees in 70 locations and 30 countries, with $8.5 trillion in assets under management as of June 2022. Its initial IPO was in 1999, with shares priced at $14. In 2008, BlackRock was invited to assist with the government bailout plan. Two-thirds of BlackRock’s investments are related to retirement.
Vanguard has been a vastly popular investment company for decades, and now has $7 trillion in assets under management globally. Its corporate headquarters are in Malvern, PA. Vanguard Group manages the Vanguard 500 index fund. The investment firm is known for its low-cost investment solutions for individuals, which include investor and admiral shares, with admiral shares requiring a larger investment minimum.
State Street Global
State Street Global is owned by State Street Bank in Boston and was founded in 1978. It launched the first and now largest ETF in the US and, in 1988, launched the industry’s first sector-specific ETF. State Street Global has recently launched various environmental, social, and governance (ESG) ETFs. The firm provides both traditional and alternative investments.
Fidelity Investments was founded in 1946 and is best known for its mutual funds. Today, the company works with 22,000 employers to provide pension plans for their employees.
With Fidelity investments, you can open a brokerage account, an HSA, an IRA, and a 529 college savings plan. A Fidelity advisor can work with you to create a comprehensive wealth management plan that includes retirement planning and estate planning. The firm’s advisory services require a minimum investment of $50,000.
The Bank of New York (founded by Alexander Hamilton) merged with Mellon Financial in 2007, forming BNY Mellon. BNY Mellon has $1.9 trillion in assets under management as of June 30, 2022 and operates in 35 countries.
At BNY Mellon, wealth management solutions are offered to endowments and foundations as well as families and individuals, including investment management and private banking. With its history in banking, BNY Mellon’s banking solutions include checking and savings accounts, cash management, lending, and mobile banking.
Legal and General Investment
Legal and General Investment Management (LGIM) is one of Europe’s largest investment firms, with £1.3 trillion in assets. It is guided by the parent firm Legal & General’s vision of inclusive capitalism.
LGIM America was founded in 2006, and today, it manages $224 billion in assets for its institutional clients.
LGIM’s ESG focus includes portfolios that are aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and portfolios that are climate-aligned to meet decarbonization objectives.
J.P. Morgan Asset Management
J.P. Morgan Asset Management is the investment branch of J.P. Morgan Chase, which also offers private banking services such as credit lending and checking and savings accounts. The investment company’s financial advisors offer investment services to a broad range of investors seeking to achieve their unique financial goals.
The company’s wealth advisors work with their affluent clientele in the areas of estate planning and tax management, as well as providing advice for managing compensation.
Wellington Management is an investment management firm with over $1 trillion in assets under management. The company is based in Boston, MA, with 62 offices, and was founded in 1928.
Jean Hynes is the CEO of Wellington management, which is a 40-year-old private partnership, and she believes that the company’s focus on culture is at the root of its success as well as the success of its clients.
The company’s only business is money management, focusing on their clients’ investment goals, for clients such as Vanguard Group.
Goldman Sachs Group
Goldman Sachs Group offers wealth management, asset management, and banking services to businesses, institutions, and individuals, with locations across the US, Europe, and Asia. It has been in operation since 1869, and today, it has almost 40,000 employees. The firm began to manage pension funds in 1988, managed Microsoft’s IPO, generating $61 million, and since 2012, it has a real estate division.
Goldman Sachs Private Wealth Management offers services such as building customized portfolios, trust and estate planning, lines of credit and lending, and philanthropic education.
As Europe’s leading asset manager, Amundi offers extensive money management services to over 100 million clients. It is a French company and has $2 trillion in assets under management. It was founded in 2010 as the merger of the asset management arms of Crédit Agricole and Société Générale. Amundi’s income is derived from its subscription fees and annual management fees. Amundi manages a range of funds including ETFs as well as alternative assets. It is engaged in both active and passive asset management.
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.
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 top 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, which is what could qualify them as one of the top wealth management firms. 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 firms in the US.
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 has the potential to be among the top wealth management firms and even worth your time to investigate.
Some of the top wealth management firms are JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Credit Suisse. By choosing Pillar Wealth management, you would benefit from decades of experience, receive personalized service, and increase your net worth.
We are a wealth management business specializing in financial services for high net worth individuals and families. We are Registered Investment Advisors (RIA) as well as fiduciaries.
7 Core Services of Top Wealth Management Firms
There are seven services that all the top 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
5. Risk Management
6. Cash Flow Planning
Morgan Stanley is often ranked first. However, by doing some research, you may find that they are not the best wealth management firm for your financial needs and situation.
According to Barron's, the top 10 are Gregory Vaughn, Lyon Polk, Mark T. Curtis, Brian Pfeifler, Karen McDonald, Mark Douglass, Richard Saperstein, Jeff Erdmann, Tony Gnepp, and Scott Siegel.
BlackRock is the biggest wealth manager globally, with $9.464 trillion in assets under management. It was founded in 1988 and has been influential in advancing ETFs.
According to a survey conducted by Investor’s Business Daily in 2020, the most trusted wealth management company is Fidelity, followed by Charles Schwab and T. Rowe Price.
Among the biggest wealth management firms are Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, and Goldman Sachs. There are many others that have assets under management worth over $1 trillion.
According to Analytics Steps, the top 10 wealth management firms are UBS, Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Charles Schwab, Citi, BNP Paribas, and Julius Baer.
According to the website Thinkadvisor.com, Morgan Stanley is the largest wealth management firm, with $1.5 trillion in assets under management in 2021, up 16% from 2019.
According to the website advratings.com, the Swiss firm UBS global wealth management is the top global wealth management firm, with $2.6 trillion in assets under management.
According to Barron’s, Bank of America is the largest bank providing wealth management and other financial services to high-net-worth individuals, with Morgan Stanley in second place.
It is worthwhile using a wealth manager if your financial situation is complex and the wealth manager produces greater returns on your investments than they charge in fees.
1. Asset Allocation Analysis
Asset allocation is the most important component in any financial or investment 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:
|Your specific goals and plans for life, family, retirement, business, and philanthropy|
But here’s the kicker:
Too many firms, even among the top wealth management firms, just slap percentages to this and call it a day.
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 the top wealth management firms – 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 plan 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.
2. Wealth Transfer
Do you have an estate plan?
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.
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.
4. Investment Management
4. Investment Management
For ultra-high net worth families, managing your investments so you maximize performance while minimizing risk can be all-consuming.
|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|
|Ensuring long term success and security|
|Building around your goals, not just a rate of return|
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.
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.
The top 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 of the top wealth management firms 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.
6. Cash Flow Planning
Which common financial concept is the most unknown and unheard of?
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 firms 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.
And that brings us to:
7. Retirement Planning
The last core service to expect from top wealth management firms 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.
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 Which Are the Top Wealth Management Firms?
Now, you get it:
There is way more to finding the top wealth management firms than just looking at assets under management.
That said, you’re probably a tiny bit curious about which are the top wealth management firms in the world.
Why PillarWM May Be The Best Fit For You
At Pillar Wealth Management, we have positioned ourselves as a premier wealth management firm for several reasons, while not being in this list of top wealth management firms.
Here are three of the main reasons PillarWM may be the best fit for you:
It’s very easy to underestimate the importance of working with an experienced wealth management firm.
With a newbie, who may be what you get at the top wealth management firms, 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, a claim that many wealth advisors at the top wealth management firms could not make.
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.
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.
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 the services of the top wealth management firms 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, similarly to many of the top wealth management firms.
With over 60 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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