Private Wealth Manager: The Complete Guide 2019

Financial advising is big business.

Everyone wants to be successful and rake in the dough, so it's only natural that people would turn to financial advisors, people who are experts in the field, to help them out.

Because of this, you may have considered a career in private wealth management. Before heading in that direction, though, you may have some questions, such as "What's the difference between a private wealth manager and a financial advisor?" or "What skills and education do I need to perform well in this role?"

Also, you may be wondering about the long-term outlook for the job and its salary.

In this article, we hope to shine some light on the details of becoming a private wealth manager.

Private Wealth Manager vs. a Financial Advisor: What’s the Difference?

In the world of finance, there are a lot of different titles for people who can be hired to offer fiscal advice, so it can get a bit confusing. "Financial advice" is a very general heading — both private wealth managers and financial advisors offer financial advice.

However, financial advisors and financial planners target a more general audience, everyday people who need a little help managing their funds and getting the most "bang for their buck." They're all about lifestyle planning, helping people and families save money for retirement, save for college, and keep their unnecessary expenses limited.

On the other hand, private wealth managers cater to high-net-worth individuals or ultra-high-net-worth individuals.

In other words, they help wealthy people who don't have a lot of time to manage their finances.

They're also going to help out with things that most people don’t have to worry about, such as capital gains taxes, risk management, and estate planning. These professionals are called "wealth managers" for a reason: They manage genuine wealth.

Both financial planners and private wealth managers make pretty healthy livings. A successful financial planner can make over $100,000 annually under the right circumstances (with bonuses and the like). However, private wealth managers can make a lot more, easily $500,000 annually if they're working for a big Wall Street firm. Their incomes can be bumped to more than $1 million a year with bonuses.

Necessary Education

The vast majority of private wealth managers are going to have, at the very least, a bachelor's degree. You should have one in business administration or a related subject like accounting or financial management. Many people in this field have master's degrees or even their doctorate.

There is no state-defined, legislated education requirement for a person to become a private wealth manager. Rather, each firm is going to have its own standards. Keep in mind that private wealth management is more "elite" than "regular" financial planning, so often the standards will be much more rigorous.

For instance, firms will want you to have experience of some kind. If you want to get involved in the financial sector right out of college, you might want to start out as a financial planner and then switch jobs mid-career. This can certainly be a good option, as it would show potential hiring managers that you have already helped people with their finances (albeit on a different level).

A degree from a high-ranking university will help you to stand out from the crowd and get hired by a firm. If you perform really well at school, sometimes universities can even recommend their own students to firms. Actually, some private wealth managers can jumpstart their careers by doing an employer on-the-job training program as part of graduate school.

Ultimately, it's the higher standards of firms looking for private wealth managers that translate into higher income rates, so taking the time to get the necessary qualifications will certainly pay off in the long-run.

Other Skills Hiring Firms Will Look For

As you'll be helping people out with stock market investments, you should have an in-depth knowledge of the stock market's inner workings and be proficient at things such as risk assessment, for instance.

You also need to have knowledge of relevant tax laws that would apply to your clients and understand how the banking sector operates. You should absolutely have a passion for the markets, keeping a close eye on them daily, and a knack for mathematics certainly helps.

#1. Social Skills

Investopedia advises that a person going into this field be gregarious and good at socializing. In fact, they say that, besides your education, this is the single most important factor in whether or not you will be successful in the world of wealth management+.

It makes a lot of sense: Your ability to network will be incredibly important. Additionally, your ability to sell yourself will be critical, so try to develop some marketing skills that put you in a good light. Remember, potential clients will always have other options and want what's best for their money, so you have to make yourself stand out.

#2. Business Savvy

You're going to need to be a tenacious person who can handle the fast-paced pressure of the business world. You need to trust your own financial skills. Ask yourself: "Would I trust myself with my own money?"

If the answer is no, then you might want to rethink your career path. Being a personal wealth manager means you'll have to make confident decisions and have an excellent understanding of the risks involved.

Also, have a strong desire to actually help your clients to increase their wealth — there's nothing like the feeling of a job well-done.

#3. Tech Skills

Additionally, you should be proficient in IT skills because you're going to be using computers to aid you in your accounting. Even something as simple as frequently checking your smartphone's stock market app to keep tabs on what's going on is a good habit to cultivate.

#4. Global Perspective

Being fluent in more than one language can definitely be a boon to your job and your potential earnings. This can extend to an understanding of global economics, and so you will be able to rake in clients from other countries.

Languages that are particularly useful in the business world are French, German, Russian, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Japanese. Obviously, make sure to learn the financial terms of these languages as well (German’s financial language can be especially difficult to master).

Finally, you need to register with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) if you're based in the United States; this will enable potential clients to make sure you're licensed and check out your education background.

What does a Private Wealth Manager’s Daily Work Look Like?

As a private wealth manager, you'll be

  • informing your client all about tax laws,
  • offering insurance options,
  • and helping people make smart decisions.

Basically, you’re ensuring that they maintain and build their personal wealth. A private wealth manager essentially combines several other professions, like investment manager, retirement planning, and legal and estate planning into one person. You need to really know your stuff because you'll be expected to be a jack-of-all-trades, master of all. You will most likely also act as a stock broker, buying and selling on your client's behalf.

There's more to the job outside of the consulting room, however. You'll need to keep in contact with your clients, keeping them up to date on things as circumstances change. If your client has other advisors, like attorneys or trust officers, you will need to consult with them to get a better picture of the client's complete financial situation.

Why Become a Private Wealth Manager? How Much can I Make?

Wealth management can be very enjoyable for you if you're interested in economics and have an analytical mindset. If you have the type of personality that would fit this career, you'll know it.

In addition, wealth management can be a great career path to building up your own significant nest egg. People will be coming to you for financial advice, so you'll naturally develop the skills to manage and increase your personal wealth.

The starting salary for a private wealth manager will probably be somewhere around $90,000. The thing to keep in mind, though, is that in financial advice jobs like these, most of your income is going to come from commissions. Firms will probably give you a base salary to help you get established, but you're going to have to hit sales targets relatively quickly.

These firms have precise business models, and need quite a bit of money coming in just to break even. Therefore, they simply won't be able to pay you a lot of money without your bringing in clients. Once established, however, private wealth managers can start to rake in the big bucks. Your overall income will depend on multiple factors, and one of the most imperative of these is performance.

According to Forbes contributor Russ Alan Pierce, private wealth managers have the highest income of all other professions that fall under the heading of "financial advice." The relative percentage of wealth managers who made over $1 million annually was at about 10%, and another 45% of private wealth managers earned between $500,000 and $1 million.

As you can see, becoming a successful private wealth manager can net you quite a lot of money. However, as mentioned earlier, how much you earn ultimately depends on a lot of different factors, such as your education, where you work, and above all how good you are at what you do.

Job Outlook

According to the Investopedia Guide mentioned above, jobs like financial planning and personal wealth management are projected to grow by around 30% in the next decade.

As they rightly point out, the availability and lucrativeness of these jobs increase and decrease about the state of the economy. For instance, it might have seemed dicey for a person to start their personal wealth management career during the global recession of 2007–2009. But as things are now on the upswing from that turbulent time, the job outlook has improved.

Private Wealth Manager Salary

An experienced Goldman Sachs is being paid $26/hr. If we talk about annual salary it's somewhere around $105,015/yr.

Will I Have any Free Time?

A career as a personal wealth manager can be a stressful one.

As pointed out earlier, you're going to need a thick skin to deal with the pressures of this job. It can be a full-time career, especially since even in your downtime you will have to keep your eye on the market.

However, if you're the type of person who would be doing that anyway, you're probably the type of person who would make a good private wealth manager. And actually, as each individual client is worth more in financial terms, a private wealth manager won't need as many clients as a financial planner.


We sincerely hope that you found this guide to becoming a private wealth manager informative and helpful. We hope that you'll take some of the things we mentioned into account if you're considering this job. It's usually a very stressful job, but if you have a natural inclination toward economics, you’ll find the work rewarding.

This guest post was written by Casey Meehan, founder of Stock Hax.

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