RIAs, MFOs rated most appealing in high net markets

Asset managers flag registered investments and multi-family offices as the most appealing channels to sell to high net worth investors, according to new research.

Cerulli Associates, Boston, published this finding in its latest report, “High net worth and ultra-high net worth markets 2012: Understanding bank trust departments, family offices, private client groups and other HNW providers.” The report analyzes the U.S. high net worth (more than $5 million in investable assets) and ultra-high net worth (greater than $20 million) marketplaces, including vehicle usage, fees and services provided by bank trust departments, family offices and private client groups.

When asked which of 9 distribution channels is the most appealing for asset managers to address the needs of high net worth investors, the survey respondents ranked RIAs and wealth managers highest, giving them a 4.5 score on a desirability scale (where 4.5 is the most desirable and 1 is the least desirable), followed by multiple-family offices, which received a 4.4 score.

Less attractive on the desirability scale are, the report adds, are private banks (4.1), wirehouses (3.7), single-family family offices (3.5), institutional consultants (3.4), regional and independent broker/dealers (3.2), direct sale to high net worth clients (2.8) and discount broker-dealers (1.6).

When questioned about which products are most in demand from high net worth investors, high net worth providers ranked alternative investments in a mutual fund wrapper second (following institutionally priced mutual funds), with 83 percent of providers planning to increase their use of the product.

The report pegs the average number of provider relationships by investable assets for all households this year at three. This compares with 2.7 in in both 2011 and 2010, 3.1 in 2009 and 2.9 in 2008.

Individuals with the highest number of provider relationships have more than $5 million in investable assets. In 2012, the average is 3.7, the same as in 2011. In 2010, 2009 and 2008, the average numbers were 3.4, 3.8 and 3.3, respectively.


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