I am often being asked where family savers are going to put their wealth in the future. And the answer isn’t so simple.
What is family wealth?
Let’s begin with the definition of Family Wealth. Family Wealth comprises human capital, intellectual capital and financial capital. The old adage, “If you don't have your health, you don't have anything” has some merit.
As someone who lost a child at age 19, I can say that no wealth in the world will ever make up for this loss. Similarly, no wealth in the world will ever make up for the medical diagnosis of a terminal disease. Yet wealth can help secure better doctors and hospitals, better places to live, and time for family vacations (although, in my experience, some of the best family vacations are inexpensive like camping and visiting National Parks). And since we live in a world where some of America’s best colleges now cost more than $60,000 per year, wealth can make these choices affordable.
What about Financial Capital?
Financial Capital is fungible, meaning it can flow both in positive and negative directions. Therefore, now more than ever, it is imperative to receive great advice.
Retail investing began with the nationwide adoption of the telegraph. Huge firms, mostly in New York City, opened and took orders, first for the few and then from the many. Names in the Wirehouse world include Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley. You may remember firms of yore, such as Dean Witter, Smith Barney, Prudential Bache, and Drexel. Many of these firms still exist and still do business, albeit in more modern ways, by making stock or bond transactions. (And, good for them — since they have been around so long and created a reputation for the very large investment of trust, they can offer investment banking services.)
Banks and Insurance Companies have a place in the investing world, too. Some of the world’s largest banks now own Wirehouses, like how Bank of America owns Merrill Lynch. You can question if the long-term culture of these Bank/Wirehouse combinations will be one of capital growth or capital preservation.
And Charles Schwab rocked the investing world with the first do-it-yourself program for investors, which is now a multi-trillion-dollar industry. Of course, the Internet has made it much easier to invest, with both the upside and downside of the proliferation of information, not all of it being accurate and much of it being confusing.
But today, to the surprise of many, the Independent Registered Financial Advisor (RIA) sector manages $110 trillion in assets. Advisory services are increasingly viewed as an indispensable necessity for financial well-being for increasing portions of the population. Family Wealth is moving towards the RIA sector and looking for Fiduciaries with knowledge, experience, and some grey hair.
What they can offer, and what is the reason behind why this industry is the fastest-growing sector of the entire financial world, is an independent voice on the markets and investments.
They are also generally not bound by proprietary products and can do unbiased research into targeted areas of financial interest that make the most sense for their clientele.
The RIA industry does not bring firms public, so it cannot offer “inside shares” to their premier clients as do Investment Banking Firms.
So, despite the rise of new-age firms that cater to the DIY investor (such as Robinhood), Family Wealth continues to trend towards the RIA where the client can receive personalized and tailored service, sound investment options (that are non-proprietary), and close support to meet their goals and needs. Some Family Offices also offer budget advice, bill paying and accounting services for families that are too busy or have no desire to handle these issues themselves.
Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see the ultimate direction of Millennial investors. This is the first generation that grew up in the Digital Age, consults Google for any and all questions, and seeks less professional advice than previous generations. But our personal finances are complex; properly managing your investments and making the right financial decisions takes a tremendous amount of time, skill, and effort. Research also proves that investors feel more confident with a Fiduciary Advisor who keeps them on track and proactively identifies financial risks and opportunities for you. We value experience in nearly every aspect of life — don't discount it when it comes to managing your life savings.
At Prosperity Financial Group, we are thrilled that we have been consistently ahead of the curve of our industry. We were independent long before the trend. We became Fiduciaries and shunned proprietary products before it ever became a hot topic. And our advice has always been personalized and tailored to our clients without the pressure of sales or product quotas.