An Open Letter To SA Wealth Managers

I recently had an interesting conversation with my father about investing, saving, and general financial management which absolutely opened my eyes. My father is part of what in the US is referred to as the “baby boomer” generation born during a population surge following WWII. The generation that is either preparing to or in the process of enjoying retirement. The generation which also makes up a significant portion of the invested and investable assets among individuals in the US. In SA it is a similar story with the fifty and sixty somethings funding a lot of the advisers, family offices, and wealth managers.

What became very clear in speaking with my father about investing is that his expectations of what he wants from his wealth manager are vastly different from what I expect from a firm whose sole purpose is to grow or preserve my capital. That “old money” (if I can say that without offending the entire Internet) is in the process of being combined with the new wealth being earned by my generation, the twenty and thirty-somethings. The expectation from your client base, Ms./Mr. wealth manager, is shifting very quickly… The scary thing is that here in SA the investment community is catered to my father’s generation and is barely scraping the edge of what my generation expects. The list below is a representative, and by no means exhaustive, indication of what I expect. Who wants my money?

What I Want:

  • I want to be able to view my portfolio(s) anytime I want from any device I have, full stop. Prices should be no more than 15 minutes delayed for investments priced intraday, and as they are available on other instruments.
  • I want full transparency into what is causing my portfolio(s) to appreciate or decline. I should be able to see my outperforming industries, sectors, countries, and individual investments whenever I want from whatever device happens to be in my calloused mits.
  • I want full fee transparency. I want to know exactly what I am paying for and how much I am paying per billing period.
  • I want the flexibility to follow your specific models, blend your models, and be able to have a portfolio with my own ideas. I want to be able to see all of these separately or side by side with regards to holdings, classifications, and performance.
  • I want to be able to sign-up in an automated fashion from any device.

What I Do Not Want:

  • I do not want you to mail me anything tangible related to my investments. A PDF statement? Is it 1995?.
  • I do not want to have to talk to you to get any information about my portfolio. If I have to email you and make a request for information, or speak to you over the phone, or, neverland forbid, actually have to go to a branch office then I will not be pleased.
  • I do not want to have to wait a week, a day, or even an hour to know any valuation related information about my portfolio. My portfolio should be at my fingertips whether those fingertips are touching a keyboard, a touchscreen, or holographic minority report glove display (not joking at all, Hololense, Oculus, or Vive anyone?).
  • I do not want to have to pay fees every time I interact with my wealth manager or my investments. Fees for deposit, fees for withdrawal, fees for custody, fees for statements, fees for maintenance, fees for emails, fees for text messages, fees for execution… please spare me and include it all in the management bps. Do you really need to nickel and dime me for every interaction? I mean does sending an email or a PDF actually cost money?
  • I do not want to have to sign up using a fax machine. Who even has a fax machine? Who in my generation even has a landline? Do I need to sign up for an account the same way that my 65+ parents did? It is almost 2016 people, come on. And OMG please don’t ask me to physically go anywhere to sign-up. Ridiculous.

Why You Want What I Want:

If you, Ms./Mr. Wealth Manager are able to achieve what I want it means that your business is extremely efficient. If you want what I want it means your operations are 99%+ automated and your staff are either making you money (making me money), managing risk, managing clients, or managing the technology. If you want what I want then your business can grow AUM without growing expense. If you want what I want then you are able to deal with new regulations, new products, expanded offerings, and new opportunities quicker. If you want what I want it means your client interaction is proactive and based on your apps, web presence, and interactivity. If you want what I want then please shut up and take my money.


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