Top 7 Advisor Services Ranked by High-Net-Worth Investors


High-net-worth clients require robust and sophisticated investment services. That’s what we read in industry articles, say on our websites, and pitch to HNW prospects. But what does it mean exactly? What do HNW investors actually value?

Luckily, we don’t have to guess. Here are the most important services according to HNW investors:

HNW Investors Rank Top Advisor Services

Six service areas rate as important by more than 75% of HNW investors, calling for a well-diversified service offering to align with their expectations.

But long-term success requires more than quickly adding or expanding your service offering – internally or through partnership. It requires thoughtful planning and execution to capture the essence of what HNW investors seek in each service.

We’ve compiled a few tips on how to align your services with the HNW audience:

Investment Management/Financial Planning

Unsurprisingly at the top of the list, investment management and financial planning are services you likely already provide. However, it’s important to understand a few nuances about how HNW investors want their money managed.

First, it’s important to note that HNW investors aren’t as risk averse as you might think. Many of them keep large amounts of cash (more than 10%1) on hand, not for protection, but to allow them the flexibility to take advantage of opportunity. They are also value oriented, but not in the sense of bargain pricing – in fact, just the opposite. They demonstrate a willingness to pay for quality service.

A good example is found in the rise of the direct-to-HNW-Investor advisory firm Fisher Investments (you’ve likely seen or heard of their TV and social media ads). With more than $71 billion in AUM, their recent success speaks toward what HNW investors seek – quality investment services that are tailored to their unique needs. It’s all about customization, which they deliver through Separate Accounts.

Tax and Legal Advice

With higher taxable assets, tax and legal advice is top of mind for most HNW investors. 

An important facet of managing HNW investor taxes is capital gains. Prioritize investment vehicles that reduce capital gains, such as ETFs over standard Mutual Funds. This is another example of the importance of customization and flexibility when serving wealthier clients. Another strategy available through Separate Accounts (or Separately Managed Accounts) is tax loss harvesting, which can boost a portfolio’s returns by 0.5% to 1%, according to Meeder Investment Management.

Estate/Trust Management

A key trait of HNW investors is confidence. Eighty-two percent of HNW investors are confident in their ability to handle family money1. However, that confidence doesn’t always translate to the next generation. Expand your educational resources around the transition of wealth, and focus on reducing anxiety as the client nears retirement.

Retirement Solutions

Unlike mass affluent investors, your HNW clients don’t need coaching to accumulate enough money to retire. They require a different focus. It comes back to tax management. Explicitly communicate your ability to navigate the tax implications of taking distributions. Place a higher emphasis on strategies for capital preservation to better resonate with their unique needs.

Banking & Insurance

More than 32% of HNW investors consider the availability of credit when evaluating wealth management firms2. Remember, these investors are more opportunity oriented than their mass affluent counterpart. Adopt that mindset, and ensure your positioned to enable them to take full advantage of investment opportunities as they arise. Consider integrating banking and insurance solutions into your practice. 

Social Impact/Philanthropic

Social impact investing and philanthropy is particularly relevant for the emerging class of wealth1. Providing services to help align their investment activity and personal beliefs helps you create deeper connections with the client. Seek to add impact and socially responsible investing options, and become adept in understanding the tax implications of each strategy.

Hopefully most of these top-rated services aren’t a surprise. Expanding your HNW business doesn’t have to be complicated. All it requires is a targeted focus on their unique needs and wants. Consider how well you’re prepared to meet those needs, and work to amend your service set to fill in the gaps – whether through proprietary processes or a strategist-affiliated program, such as Separately Managed Accounts. Then you can compete confidently, as a firm well-positioned to serve and retain HNW business.

 Click to download How to Attract and Serve High Net Worth Investors - An Advisor's Guide.

1U.S. Trust Insights on Wealth and Worth, 2017

2United States Wealth Report, 2015