Wealthy Investors Prefer Boutiques Over Larger Wall Street Firms: Study

Reputation for honesty and first-class service advantage smaller wealth managers

High-net-worth investors favor boutique wealth management firms over Wall Street behemoths based on quality, exclusivity, social status and ability to deliver special client experiences, according to a new study.

Luxury Institute surveyed investors with at least $5 million in assets and a minimum annual income of $200,000 for its latest Wealth Management Luxury Brand Status Index, released last week.

Respondents reported $15 million average net worth and average income of $720,000.

Brown Brothers Harriman earned the highest LBSI score of 7.01 on a 1–10 scale, ranking first on each of the four subcategories.

Boston Private Bank and Trust trailed with a 6.37 score, followed by Neuberger Berman Private Asset Management, 6.3, and Bessemer Trust, 6.27.

“Reputations for honesty and superior client service are what make the smaller firms standouts in this survey,” Luxury Institute’s chief executive Milton Pedraza said in a statement. “This is demonstrated by revered brands Rockefeller and Glenmede, which barely missed the mark in attaining a statistical sample, but would have been in the top range otherwise.”

The survey found wealthy investors also asserting a strong streak of independence with the largest share (8.7%) saying they would use Fidelity for future wealth management services.

Fidelity was also the most recommended brand, with 61% of respondents saying they would refer friends and family to Fidelity. Only 32% said they would recommend Goldman Sachs.

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