How to Become a Successful Wealth Manager

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Young colleagues

The wealth management industry is growing thanks to demographic shifts in the United States. More people are accumulating wealth at a much younger age and the population of high-net worth individuals continues to grow, from 2.9 million in 2005 to 3.3 million people as of 2013.

Between major firms, family offices and independent fee-based advisors, there’s a lot of competition in the marketplace. Consumers have so many choices for how to manage their money—and with whom. If you’re thinking about becoming a wealth manager or have just started your own firm, becoming successful isn’t as simple as targeting high-net worth clients and getting them a great return on their investment. You need to set up structures and systems for your business to make it sustainable. Here are five things to keep in mind:

Get Outside Help

Starting your own practice can be costly. It also can be stressful if you don’t have all the necessary skills or time to handle different parts of the business. You need to understand the difference between contracting with a registered investment advisor (RIA) and starting your own. Often times it’s too much to start one yourself when you’re trying to transition hundreds of accounts to a new custodian—just ask the clients who’ve been through one. Contracting with an RIA is a great source of help with the mountains of paperwork. If you do register with an RIA for your first year you’ll learn a lot about how to run back office operations (billing, compliance, registration, CE and communications), which ultimately will help your business in the long run.


A focused investment model and lineup of peripheral products (Syndicate, Annuities, Life Insurance, etc.) is a must. Too many moving parts makes it harder to keep your arms around your whole book of business. Using one company for annuities, for example, makes your wholesaler happy and their support staff becomes yours, which means less paperwork for you.

Use the Right Technology

Bite the bullet and buy first-rate portfolio performance software. Too often custodians make promises of great technology that leave you hanging when a client calls asking for year-to-date returns or historical data. Most custodians’ software seriously lacks when it comes to historical data, so do your research and find software that best serves your clients.

Partner Up

Think about bringing on a partner with a lot of knowledge in an area that’s outside your expertise. I joined a partner that owns an insurance company selling small group health benefits. His knowledge of all things insurance really closes the loop that the insurance specialist at the wire house helped with. A partnership like this also is a good idea because it lets you grow and diversify your income, since you can get paid for referring employee benefit cases from your business owner clients.

Starting your own firm can be exhilarating and unnerving at the same time. But if you follow the tips I’ve outlined above and have a strategy for growing your business that you execute on every day, success will follow.

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