The America’s is a highly attractive and competitive market, with new and emerging wealth managers combining human and digital interactions to offer increasingly personalized experiences and an ever-broader range of investment options.

Signals of change

Competitive

Competition in the Americas has intensified, with a record number of deals in 2021 from investors and business owners attracted by the strong fundamentals and growth potential. PE buyers have shown increased interest in independent Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs), and there have been significant acquisitions of separately managed account (SMA) businesses, to offer customized investment to existing and new customer segments. Portfolio customization is a further driver of M&A activity.

Private banks, brokers and dealers, RIAs, fintechs, full-service wirehouses, insurers and asset managers are differentiating their wealth management offerings and expanding reach, causing market convergence. Wealthtechs are bringing an entirely new layer of competition and expanding fast, and larger wealth management players are acquiring these new entrants to gain valuable data technology assets.

Advisors

Advisors are leaving the industry faster than firms can replace them, and players are struggling to attract younger talent. There’s a growing need for more diverse specialists with a range of new skills, while automation, robo-advisors and data and analytics are unlocking efficiencies and insights. Investors are looking for efficiency and personalization, ‘referral’ marketing is growing fast, and planning-to-clearing platforms are also emerging, advancing client service for advisors.

Regulatory

Evolving legal and regulatory frameworks will likely impact businesses significantly, potentially eliminating wealth advisors that fail to meet new standards. Diverse regimes across geographies make it harder to carry out cross-border transactions, particularly for Americas’ businesses catering to clients with interests in Europe and Asia.

In the wake of new players, products, services, platforms and apps, regulators are demanding (and enforcing) greater consumer protection. The shift to remote working and the growth in customer data puts increased regulatory pressure on data security and operational resiliency. Following the surge in ‘gamification’, expect to see significant new controls and penalties, to prevent abusive or manipulative trading activity, with new responsibilities to educate investors.

Future business models

More than USD68 trillion is expected to move between generations in this region over the next 25 years1. How will different wealth managers tackle this huge opportunity?

The financial well-being provider
The mass and mass-affluent space includes digital-only, centralized hybrid (digital/human), bank/branch based, and full-service 1:1 RIA and brokerage models. Services include debt management, wealth accumulation and retirement distribution. These players aim to meet clients’ total financial needs, using data-driven digital marketing to overcome high customer acquisition costs, and partnering with online advisor platforms.

Successful companies in this segment are expected to embrace lightweight financial planning and connect client needs to a set of integrated offerings, including through partnerships, to deepen wallet share beyond investment management. 

The domestic wealth manager
This high-touch, human-first model is dominated by the four large wirehouses, national and regional bank wealth managers, captive and independent RIAs, brokers/dealers, and various hybrid and direct-provider businesses. There is an opportunity to provide more sophisticated investment products and, for affluent customers,  expect a continuation of the advisor-led model featuring highly trusted relationships. Three factors are likely to drive significant change:

  1. Advisors shifting to holistic, planning-centric advice to better meet financial goals.
  2. Smart data to enable growth and personalized experiences.
  3. Digital capabilities to achieve a more seamless client and advisor experience.

The global investment expert
These players are sophisticated private banks, multi-family offices, private wealth managers and asset managers directly serving the wealthiest and most discerning clients — holding USD12 billion of investible assets.2 To compete, wealth managers are expected to deliver a customized and exclusive experience, including personalized banking, investment management, tax, trust, philanthropy, and estate management services. Many of these clients own businesses and need institutional services like investment banking solutions, stock planning, employee financial wellness programs or benefits-related consulting.

Global investment experts should also be able to aggregate clients’ international and domestic interests to provide seamless, global financial services — something that few, if any, have yet to achieve.

Top strategic objectives americas bar chart

               

Further Insights

               

1The Cerulli Report ‘U.S. Retail Investor Advice Relationships’ 2020

2The Cerulli Report U.S. Retail Investor Advice Relationships, 2020