Why wealthy clients don’t like investing through the bank

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Future profits for bank advisers will have to come primarily from the higher-net-worth segments as market dynamics push business upstream. However, the bank channel, as a whole, has been terrible at servicing HNW segments.

Everyone begins with 100% of their assets in a bank or credit union. However, the wealthier a customer gets, the more likely their assets will leave the institution and go elsewhere. Why are we letting this happen? As a channel, we must get better at attracting and retaining HNW assets.

Our channel has the capability to provide a wider variety of valued financial services to HNW segments than most other channels in the industry. For our institutions to fulfill our market leadership potential we must get all wealth management departments rowing in the same direction. We must eliminate turf issues, lack of trust, the ‘us vs. them’ mentality, and instead have top-down driven cultural change that uses focused success measurement, incentives, penalties, and a rigorous management style that has little tolerance for the status quo.

Wealth management teams are becoming a necessity. An adviser force that meets current day needs should be tiered. At a minimum, banks should have an associated adviser tier, a core financial adviser tier, and a senior adviser tier. The senior adviser, or “second story adviser,” is book-based and can also serve on a wealth management team. Alternatively, a wealth management adviser can be your fourth tier of adviser.

Major changes in our channel are overdue. Will your bank program be one of the survivors in 5 years? Will it be an industry leader?

These tiers provide a good framework for growing talent internally, providing a marketable career path, effectively servicing client segments and accommodating succession planning.

Banks should ensure their advisers are needs-based. They must thoroughly understand the needs of HNW clients (and their client’s families) to win their trust. Every HNW client has a maximum of six wealth-oriented needs: liquidity, debt, income now, income later, protection and legacy. Be sure clients know that your bank provides each of these needs, and be sure to understand how well clients have each of these needs covered. Strive to be an organization that defines success based on how many of these six needs you are servicing for each of your HNW clients.

We mustn’t ignore the shifting market dynamics. Our channel is at a true inflection point because of the fiduciary issue, and we must use this as the catalyst to enact overdue changes. This is our opportunity to become the channel we’ve always wanted to be. The changes implied are significant, and have cultural, tactical, and operational ramifications. They must be driven from the top down.

Take the lead, have a clear vision of your desired business model and value proposition, and execute rigorously. Five years from now you’ll enjoy your leadership position in our industry.

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