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ROUNDTABLE DEBATE: Understanding UHNW Individuals In A Global Framework

Stephen Little, Reporter, London, February 19, 2014

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Wealth management professionals recently gathered in London to discuss the issues facing the ultra high net worth segment.

Wealth management professionals recently gathered in London to discuss the issues facing the ultra high net worth segment, at a time when the sector is experiencing record growth and clients are becoming more demanding.

As the ranks of the UHNW continue to grow around the world, wealth management firms that are looking to target this segment are faced with a number of challenges in what is becoming an increasingly competitive market.  

The roundtable event, which was held at the Tate Modern on London's South Bank, examined key issues affecting the UHNW segment, including the role of trusted advisors, the business models used by wealth management firms, inter-generational wealth transfer and how clients can be served more effectively.

Speakers were Remi Frank, who is head of the UHNWI and independent wealth managers segments at French banking giant BNP Paribas; William Drake, director and co-founder of Lord North Street; Irene Graham, managing director at the British Banking Association; Caroline Garnham, chief executive, Family Bhive; Wendy Spires, communications consultant at Bulletin and former head of research at WealthBriefing; and Dan Dagg, wealth management specialist at EY. The panel was chaired by Stephen Harris, publisher of this news service.

The event was also filmed and we at WealthBriefing hope it throws some light on the growing opportunities for wealth management firms in the UHNW sector.

Growth in the UHNW segment

The panellists were asked whether they had seen an increase in growth in the UHNW sector. Family Bhive's Garnham talked about how the segment was growing globally and the impact of this on firms.

"I think the UHNW segment is growing globally and is becoming more demanding. They certainly want to build a team of trusted advisors and the second generation is coming through strongly and they want to get involved in some instances," said Garnham.

BNP Paribas Wealth Management's Frank explained that much of the firm's growth in the UHNW segment was coming from Asia. "Our main growth is coming from Asia and we are also seeing growth in the Middle East and Russia and to a lesser extent in France, Belgium and Italy," said Frank. "Even though the growth in some of these economies is not there, you can still find entrepreneurs and get into the UHNW segment," he added.

Drake said that Lord North Street's client base was predominantly continental Europe, but the firm was seeing growth in other territories. "Our client base is really continental Europe, but we have seen some interest from Mexico and Latin American countries in the past year," he said.

EY's Dagg explained that since the financial crisis there had been a decline in the UHNW segment, but it was now picking up.

"We have seen growth in the past couple of years, but prior to this there was a downturn in the market. I think you certainly see different attitudes to the way people are investing. There is a much more comprehensive view on risk within people's strategies and what they are looking for is the quality of the relationship with advisors. So the family office model certainly figures very strongly in the UHNW base," said Dagg.

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