From the July 2009 issue of Wealth Manager Web • Subscribe!

Lessons from the 2009 Top Wealth Managers

One year ago, when Wealth Manager published the 2008 Top Wealth Manager rankings, we wrote about how challenging the macroeconomic scene and markets had become for even the top wealth managers. Few could have imagined we were only at the tip of the iceberg--and what was to come. Wealth managers and their clients have come through the most wrenching financial storms most people can fathom, while at the same time the world has seen some of the largest and most outrageous financial swindles of all time exposed. While almost no one has been left untouched, some wealth managers are coming back stronger than ever, even though many are smaller in terms of total assets.

For the full cover package with Vignettes By Nancy R. Mandell and Michael S. Fischer, and analysis by Philip Palaveev, please click here. Both are also available on the front page of the Web site.

The issues that emerge from the rubble are trust, compliance, confidence, building your firm back up--and as a backdrop to almost everything, re-regulation on a scale not seen since the aftermath of the Great Depression.

Of course, the bedrock foundation of wealth management is trust and confidence. Especially now. Great wealth managers' practices are based on trust and confidence; these go hand-in-hand with fiduciary duty and re-evaluating the everyday and emerging risks to your firms and your clients, regaining portfolio and investment bearings, and getting clients back onto a stable path.

With that in mind, Wealth Manager is pleased to announce the 9th annual ranking of Top Wealth Managers (formerly the Top Dogs) by average assets under management per client. As always, we appreciate the time participants took to complete the survey that leads to these rankings. This year, Wealth Manager asked many more questions than in any other year--47 in all, including six years of ADV-reported assets. Although more than 500 firms started the survey, some firms left their surveys incomplete; others completed the survey but did not have the requisite minimum total AUM; a few were ineligible as B/Ds or banks, and still others were not SEC-registered RIAs. Once those fell out, 407 firms made the ranking list.

This year we are delighted to include analysis by Wealth Manager's practice management columnist Philip Palaveev, who is president of Fusion Advisor Network in Elmsford, N.Y., and a former Moss Adams principal. His deep knowledge of practice management for RIAs is legendary, and his full report on the survey and rankings can be found here.

In addition to the annual Top Wealth Managers survey, Wealth Manager is introducing a quarterly Top Wealth Managers Pulse--a mini-survey intended to provide information for regular, timely reports about the state of wealth management, right now--with analysis from Philip Palaveev. In this turbulent time, fresh insight from the Top Wealth Managers will be more important than ever--and to make matters even more interesting, we ask participants to suggest questions for the Pulse survey. What would you most want to ask the Top Wealth Managers? Please send the questions you feel are the most relevant to

Kate McBride is editor in chief of Wealth Manager.

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