With many money managers jettisoning all but the wealthiest clients, there are opportunities for smaller players to increase business with the less stratospheric emerging rich.
Independent trust companies, private family offices, and boutique private banks may give traditional bank trust and private banking departments a run for their money. They say they can give clients a measure of control trust or private banks rarely offer.
The traditional bank trust department is paternalistic, says Harold Evensky, president of Evensky PFO, a private family office in Coral Gables, Fla.
The emerging wealthy defined by Gomez Advisers in Boston as those whose net worth has recently exceeded (or is about to exceed) $1 million demand more control over the management and administration of their fortunes, Mr. Evensky says.
Trusts and private banks never had to provide that kind of service, he says. Private family offices like his firms that handle nearly all of a wealthy familys financial affairs can do better, he says.
For clients who make $200,000 a year and have $1 million of assets, Evensky PFO offers asset management, tax planning, financial reporting, estate planning, risk management, mortgage financing, auto leasing, bill paying, college planning, and even concierge services.
The company carefully explains to clients how it is investing their money and how much they are being charged, Mr. Evensky says.
Evensky PFO does not insist on holding all of their assets, he says. But with technologies such as account aggregation becoming widely available, the company can give clients a total picture of their portfolio, Mr. Evensky says.
In certain cases he would even work with a trust company, he says. We see a role for them, and possibly a strategic relationship.
Dale B. Krieger, president and chief executive office of Fiduciary Management, a private family office in Princeton, N.J., says traditional bank trusts basically render families beneficiaries with their hands out rather than co-managers of their wealth.
Fiduciary Management wants its clients to be involved in managing their assets and to understand long-term wealth preservation, he says.
Traditional bank trust departments are seen by many as insensitive to the family values and needs that are best represented through self governance, Mr. Krieger says.
Few bank trusts and private banks try to educate their beneficiaries, Mr. Krieger said because theyve never had to.
Mark Hurley, the president of Undiscovered Managers, a Dallas asset manager, said bank trusts and private banks also have a reputation as less efficient than other wealth managers.
Fiduciary Management aims for clients with at least $25 million in assets and specializes in creating customized private trust companies.
Though based in New Jersey, it organizes these companies under Wyoming law, which frees them of certain bank regulations. The structure gives families more financial privacy and leverage in negotiating costs.