The reputation of a wealth manager counts, but brand isn’t everything

Why reputation counts yet a high-profile brand isn’t everything when it comes to choosing the right wealth manager, writes Dominic Gamble.

I worked at several of the world’s biggest wealth managers across a number of countries over the course of my private banking career, and I can confirm that the UK market is one of the most diverse there is. The UK’s high net worth individuals can choose from a huge range of firms, which may be international or domestic, large or small, centuries-old or very recently-established. And those are just a few headline differences to be drawn between wealth managers. Even the most basic web search will reveal an incredible amount of diversity.

Having this level of choice is undoubtedly a good thing, but it can also make choosing a wealth manager quite difficult. The sheer number and variety of wealth managers operating in the UK is likely to surprise many people. What may surprise investors even more is that there are many wealth managers with long histories and great reputations operating in the UK which they may never have even heard of. There will be still more instances where you may be aware of a wealth management brand, but know little else about its offering or ethos. The industry is notoriously opaque and findaWEALTHMANAGER.com was really set up to shine a light on it for investors.

The key thing to remember is that while brand recognition might give investors a degree of reassurance, it shouldn’t be given undue weight. There are a number of possible reasons why some wealth management institutions are better known than others. Some wealth managers are part of a larger banking group and so can borrow from the brand strength of their parent company. They are also likely to have access to huge multi-channel marketing budgets in this case too. Conversely, some wealth managers deliberately keep things low-key as part of providing discreet private client services, while others are so confident of their performance and service they profess that word-of-mouth recommendations are enough. A few very exclusive ultra high net worth wealth managers even ask that prospective clients be recommended to them, such is their cachet.

Looking behind the brand

Investors need to understand that brand profile isn’t necessarily a proxy for quality when it comes to wealth management services, still less suitability for your unique needs. Of course, it’s normal to be influenced by appearances; it’s also perfectly natural to find some brands aspirational. Some people might view becoming a client of a certain institution as a sign that they’ve “arrived” and a real milestone in their achievements. It is perfectly legitimate to give brand prestige some consideration when weighing up potential wealth managers, you just shouldn’t let it completely sway you necessarily – there are many more other important considerations at stake.

A high-profile brand doesn’t guarantee good performance or service, any more than a wealth manager’s size does.

However, you may find yourself drawn to a firm which is part of a big banking group if it offers significant credit facilities, a wider range of products and services, and a deeper pool of expertise. On the other hand, you may favour a boutique which is known for outperformance in a certain asset class or a firm which prides itself on having a regional network to be close to clients.

Then we come to “style” of relationship. All wealth managers aim to deliver personal, high-touch service, but how this manifests differs significantly. So while some wealth managers are distinctly “of the old school” in the way they interact with clients, others are blazing a trail with digital communications methods. And although a fair few offer a relatively pared down service to keep costs down, their glitzier cousins make a point of entertaining clients at glamorous events. There are clients who are happy at both ends of these scales. Such factors are a matter of taste.

What do you value?

Working out what you really value (and are willing to pay for) is the key to finding the right wealth manager for your needs – and these aren’t just bare financial facts, but also considerations of personality and personal preference. Our algorithmic matching methodology objectively determines the best-matched wealth managers for your profile and preferences. The next stage, speaking to and meeting with them, is where you get to find out which one feels right.

Our findaWEALTHMANAGER.com service has been developed to help you navigate the confusing, often opaque industry to get your wealth working harder. We have vetted the industry to bring you the best quality firms who commit to best practice, and better value fees. Our two-step process matches your investment and personal aspirations to the right professionals saving you time, money and confusion. You can start the process by completing our smart online tool HERE.

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