Wealth Management


Expectations of higher compensation and more “freedom” usually top the list of articles that discuss why advisors are breaking away from large brokers. However, there is more to it than that. An interesting piece in Financial Planning tells the story of a team breaking away from Merrill Lynch. In reality it is not just comp that is an issue, and it s rarely the sole reason for breaking away. Often times it has to do with institutional limitations, like corporate bureaucracy, a bad branch manager, or small clients getting funneled to call centers. Other times it is because advisors are offering tons of service, like tax planning, cash flow management, loan refinancing etc that they just don’t get paid for.

FINSUM: This is a good piece that goes deeper than usual in exploring the real reasons advisors leave and whether doing so is a good idea.

(New York)

One of the first big changes under new Goldman CEO David Solomon is becoming clear. That first major move is in wealth management, where Goldman is attempting to push much more broadly into the market. The bank plans to launch a robo advisor to get people with as little as $5,000 to invest to join its offering. Goldman has traditionally gone after very wealthy clients ($10m+), so this is a major change of pace for the the bank and is more in line with its recent increased focus on mass market savings products. A senior figure at Goldman explained “It’s a pipeline for future clients” to allow them to “experience the Goldman Sachs’ way”.

FINSUM: Goldman seems to believe it has stretched the high end of its market (big corps and UHNWIs) as far as it could go, and this is just the next logical area for growth. The challenge here is that we don’t think the Goldman name has the same cache with the mass market that it does with the HNW market.

(New York)

One of the big worries on small RIAs’ minds right now is whether Schwab is going to leave them out on an island to wither. Small RIAs have always been the bread and butter market for TD Ameritrade, but with its recent acquisition by Schwab, that could all change—such is the fear of the small independent shop. However, Schwab has taken a couple of moves that seem to indicate they are not going to forget about the group. In particular, they have hired Tom Bradley from TDA, who for years ran TDA’s RIA custody business, to lead the new combined effort.

FINSUM: There is still a good degree of doubt over whether Schwab will mainly focus on its institutional clients and large RIAs, but this is a sign that Schwab is not likely to forget about its small RIAs.

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