If you follow our research, you know that we believe you demonstrate your true value by expanding beyond portfolio management to wealth management. I came across the chart below, which shows that our beliefs are in sync with industry sentiment. In a Cerulli survey of more than 7,500 advisors across channels, respondents viewed comprehensive wealth managers as their greatest competitive threat over the next five years.

While “comprehensive wealth management” was not defined in the survey, it’s fair to expect that such services extend well beyond asset management. You could offer advice on retirement income and tax-efficient drawdowns, estate planning, charitable interests, taxes, key person insurance, or business continuation planning, to name a few. From what I’ve observed, it’s also becoming an expectation that you share your knowledge and insights with clients’ extended families. (Doing so is a terrific opportunity to further establish trust and to get to know the investors who could become your next generation of clients.)

Diversify your team

So comprehensive wealth management is, well, comprehensive, and likely requires a team of advisors to do well. This is fortunate, because the industry has been moving toward this team-oriented approach for years. A team provides the opportunity to add specialists with depth of expertise, a feature that may help with what Cerulli found to be the second- and third-biggest competitive concerns (peers with better sales skills and niche practices, respectively).

Teams allow for the diversification of not only skill sets but also personalities and demographics, offering the ability to provide a “best fit” advisor for any given client or prospect. For example:

  • Some clients may prefer to work with more analytic advisors; others may prefer extroverts.
  • Some clients may prefer working with an advisor with more experience; others—say millennials—may relate to someone younger.
  • Some clients may want a significant amount of personal attention and contact; others may prefer a lot of information, education, and perspectives, but want a digital—rather than a personal—relationship.

Think people, not portfolios

Comprehensive wealth management is likely to be a bigger part of financial services in the future. In our opinion, wealth management isn’t a practice model focused on asset management, but on relationship management. It requires you to focus on clients as people, not portfolios.

Are you prepared to deal with a variety of client personalities and preferences? If different preferences exist within a single household relationship—say, baby-boomer parents and their Gen X or millennial children and grandchildren—how can you afford not to?

You diversify portfolios, so why not your practice?

Visit our advisor evolution resources for additional insights on staying competitive in the new age of advice.


  • All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest.