The barriers to starting a career in wealth management have always been exceedingly high, closing the industry off to a small group of established families. Inherited wealth, in particular, tends to be passed down through generations by the same hands.
But a decade-long boom in global wealth, with the UNHW population growing by 9.3 per cent in 2021 alone, has created more work and will require more hands to deal with. For Spear’s staffers, the industry’s expansion has been encapsulated by the Spear’s 500, which has evolved through eight editions to become a cornucopia of wealth management services.
This expanding universe is studded with essential services: private bankers who help HNWs secure credit and orchestrate co-investments; private investment managers who handle a client’s portfolio; and financial planners who develop accounting strategies for a HNW’s future plans. Beyond these core services asset managers will specialise in everything from yachts and jets to watches and fashion.
Whichever role you wish to pursue, Mark Somers, founder of wealth management recruiters The Somers Partnership, would advise getting a financial planning qualification first. “Wealthy people want someone who can tell them what age they can retire or what they can buy,” he explains. “Being someone a wealthy person would trust to plan their future is incredibly valuable.”
It’s also incredibly competitive. Talent has sloshed in from investment banks as banking chiefs slashed jobs in the wake of the pandemic; the rise of New York, Shanghai, and Hong Kong as financial centres, meanwhile, has opened the industry to global competition.
None of this should put someone off from starting a career in wealth management. Competition may be fierce, but the industry rewards a keen eye for changing trends.
So, how to kick off a career in wealth? First, you will need to obtain the necessary qualifications to advice HNWs on their finances. Since 2013, the CISI which overseas the industry, has required that all Chartered Wealth Managers achieve “level six or seven” accreditation before they advise HNW’s on their finances. To explain this in layman’s terms, the level six would be equivalent to a BA while the level seven would take you into postgraduate territory. Expect this to be followed by regular assessments to make sure you’re up-to-speed with continuously changing regulation.
Those with pre-existing financial qualifications can take a shorter route to the wealth management industry. Individuals who have passed all three levels of the CFA can hop over the barriers around the wealth management industry by taking what’s known as a “regs paper”. Prior experience in the financial industry may also reduce the time bosses require you spend shadowing and building up your own advisory chops.
Armed with industry certification, prospective industry titans can begin building up their contact books. This can take time. According to analysis by The Somers Partnership, the average private banker’s book totals £350m and brings in £2.7m of revenue per year, while the average private investment manager will look after £220m of assets and generate £2.2m in revenue.
The bulk of these books will be built via reputation, but personal contacts can also come into play. One Spear’s contact left investment banking to manage an acquaintance’s multi-billion dollar-investment portfolio and is beginning to build a team to help with the wider financial management.
Such opportunities are rare, but a strong reputation will put you in the right positions. To build one in the wealth management world you need a holistic view of your client’s finances that allows you to spot potential pitfalls in the road ahead and develop a strategy to navigate your client safely through.
Spear’s Magazine presents Spear’s 500 Live on 7 September. Find more information on NSMG.live.