Wealth management clients might well ask what they are paying for, and whether they are getting value for money.
Although traditionally wealth managers have prided themselves on inhouse research, they are starting to concede they may not be quite up to the job. Recent research found more than 39 per cent of UK wealth managers felt their equity research coverage was inadequate, whether sourced entirely inhouse or using a mixture of inhouse and external sources.
Although they admitted to qualms about the independence of research from the sellside, there seemed to be a general reluctance to shell out money for more independent material.
And as well as worrying about how independent the research is, the wealth managers who responded to Scorpio Partnership’s research for S&P were concerned it might get a bit heavy on facts, so likely to cloud the issue. Apparently what they look for is “the ability to tell an investment story as opposed to getting bogged down in the facts”.
Surely most of their clients, whose money they are managing, are quite keen for investment decisions to be based on those boring facts?
Consumers have low levels of financial literacy
Are we financially savvy enough to make the right decisions about how to invest for retirement or calculate mortgage payments or avoid the danger of repossession?
Not enough people are, according to the OECD. In a recent study the organisation found consumers not only have low levels of financial literacy preventing them from making informed financial decisions but they often overestimate their knowledge and skills.
Now Allianz has launched a website where people can find out about a whole range of financial terms to help their decision making, from estate planning to merging portfolios after marriage. There’s even a chance to trace how the price of coffee has increased in the past 30 years or how it might change in the future.
And if that doesn’t help to demystify some of the jargon then try the Financial Times lexicon.
A future client?
“Global Australians” can now avail themselves of a specially tailored service from Standard Chartered Private Bank. Not, as you might think from the sound of it, ultra-obese Aussies, “global Australians” are what other people might call ex-pat or non-resident.
Aussie cricket legend Steve Waugh was in London to promote the new service, as well as a specialist offering for “elite international sportspeople”, which will initially target those from the Southern hemisphere.
The private bank, which has grown from a standing start two years ago to employ over 1,500 today, offers services to a list of ‘global nationalities’ on the assumption they each have sufficient commonalties to justify it. Perhaps more compelling from a marketing point of view, it allows the bank to pair like with like – an Australian relationship manager for Australians, a Korean relationship manager for Koreans, and so on.
Private jets: many of the super-rich have been forced to put their jets up for sale
We are used to hearing the rich are getting richer but the credit crunch last year has taken its toll. Now it seems the rich are getting poorer faster than anyone else.
This is certainly a change of direction for wealthy investors as Merrill Lynch unfurls its global wealth management annual report today.
After a hideous year in financial markets last year, many investors might well feel angry with their financial advisers. Most, however, will restrict themselves to grumbling or perhaps the occasional courtcase.
Such mild action is not for the senior citizens of Southern Germany – a group of four unhappy investors kidnapped the financial adviser who had helped them put their money into overseas properties, losing as much as E2.4m between them.
Wealthy may enjoy luxury yachts, but they are paying too much for wealth management
Pity the poor private client – well poor is probably the wrong word, but apparently the wealthy are getting a bum deal from many of the advisers and private banks that look after their money.
They pay the highest fees and get the worst performance, according to Alan Miller, former chief investment officer at New Star Asset Management and now partner at Spencer-Churchill Miller, a wealth management boutique.
Mr Miller has seen the light and is using low cost exchange traded funds to build portfolios for clients, as he explains in a video interview. He says making asset allocation calls is the key to making money, rather than picking stocks.
Exchange traded funds seem to be flavour of the month in mainstream asset management, but they are also becoming popular in some of the more weird and whacky corners of the online personal finance market.
Examples include DecisionMoose, which offers free access to a fairly simple asset allocation model using ETFs, and MarketRiders, which gives subscribers access to “The System”, which according to the website is “a scientific method [for building an ETF portfolio] developed by Nobel Laureates and experts and used by the investing elite, but purposely hidden by Wall Street”.
Which would you trust with your money?
Confidentiality, confidentiality, confidentiality. That’s the new name of the game for wealthy investors in Europe when it comes to investment priorities.
In a world where Swiss banking secrecy is coming under pressure from regulatory change, Singapore is promising to relax its strict banking privacy laws and Hong Kong is bringing its tax transparency up to international standards, Europe’s wealthiest families are putting confidentiality at the top of their list.