Wealth Management

(New York)

When you think of the big wealth management players in the country, even just the big wirehouses, Goldman Sachs is not a name that comes to mind. More associated with investment banking, the bank now plans to greatly expand its wealth management practice as it tries to bring in ultra high net worth individuals as customers. The bank plans to grow advisor headcount by 30% by 2020, with CEO Lloyd Blankfein commenting “The world seems to be growing rich people faster than we can grow advisers to cover them”. Goldman Sachs currently has 700 advisors.

FINSUM: So they only have 700 advisors, but the typical client has over $50m in assets. Goldman is certainly going after the high margin strategy here.

(New York)

While the idea is more important for retail investors, we thought Bloomberg’s article today warning about buying ETFs might also be relevant for advisors. Bloomberg argues that the name “ETF” has become so vague as to be almost meaningless, and that investors need to be very disciplined in understanding the fund before buying it. The catch-all term “ETF” now encompasses everything from ultra-low cost index tracking funds to hugely leveraged volatility funds, all traded under often simple names and tickers.

FINSUM: The name of the game here is to read the fund prospectus and deeply understand the product being bought. But advisors already know that!


The SEC says that a lack of fee disclosures related to conflicts of interest may be rife across the wealth management industry. Now the SEC is giving a free pass to those that have failed to disclose. So long as investors come clean and give money back to investors, they won’t be punished. The biggest abuses seem to be in the lack of disclosure of mutual fund fees, which goes against the rules laid out in the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. Those who come forward will not face civil monetary penalties, but that special treatment will only be for those who come forward voluntarily.

FINSUM: Hard to say how big of a problem this is. But it does sound like this might be a good way to clean up the issue quickly.

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