Kathryn Swain of Pershing’s Financial Solutions Group outlines how a strong value proposition—matched by a firm’s investment in its people, service, pricing and solutions—can attract and retain high-net-worth clients. Details on how to serve this growing, lucrative investor segment can be found in What Wealth Wants: Refining Your Firm’s Approach to the High-Net-Worth Market.
To serve the high-net-worth market successfully and profitably, a firm has to make several fundamental changes to how it runs its business. Clearly, a firm must direct its business development efforts to attract these clients. But, beyond that, there are seven areas the firm should ultimately evolve to keep these clients over the long term.
The first is service offerings. These will need to grow deeper and broader. Second, it takes very sophisticated products and solutions to meet the complex financial needs of these clients. Responsiveness, the third area, is critical in terms of both providing information and delivering solutions. High-net-worth clients demand it. The fourth thing to consider is scale. Although it’s not essential, achieving greater scale makes it easier to meet the needs of these clients profitably. Fifth, the roles of team members must become more specialized so that the firm can offer greater expertise. The sixth area involves operations. They have to be highly sophisticated to handle the elevated service and investment management requirements. Finally, pricing has to expand beyond traditional asset-linked charges so you can maintain profitability and more accurately reflect the value you deliver.
Pershing works with many firms that have done well with high-net-worth clients. There is no magic formula. But we’ve noticed some common elements that are important to talk about. One thing they have is a well-defined value proposition. They are very clear about what they want to be known for, and about the kinds of services they’re going to deliver. This value proposition anchors their strategic growth plan and prevents them from getting pulled in too many directions. This focus is important because high-net-worth clients can make numerous requests and demands from a firm.
These firms also have solutions and services that are tailored to what high-net-worth clients want. This means customized solutions, exclusive products and timely responses to every inquiry. Services that would be nice to have for others are essential for these firms. We’re talking about things like estate planning, investment consulting, charitable giving and trusts. Also, these firms offer private banking solutions to make it easier to manage the client’s entire balance sheet. Staffing is very different for high-net-worth firms, as well. They have team members who have significant credentials and experience. The roles of team members are more specialized, too. We often see firms with attorneys, accountants and investment analysts, as well as dedicated managers.
The final thing about high-net-worth firms is that their level of client service and responsiveness is truly extraordinary. Very wealthy clients expect precise, convenient and rapid service. Successful firms meet this expectation by investing in the people, processes and technology to make every part of the service experience truly outstanding.