Wealth Advisor Salary at Bulge Bracket Banks

Investor1's picture
Rank: Senior Baboon | 203

I have heard from a MD at a top BB that the average annual compensation for a Private Wealth Advisor at this particular bank is $1.5 million.

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't PWM supposed to be less selective and pay a lot less than IBD and S&T?

If Private Wealth Managers on average can get paid $1.5 million per year that means quite a few must be clearing the $3-4 million mark which is easily on par with senior BB MDs in IBD and S&T.

If you manage lets say $2 billion and charge high fees (basis points) is it likely that you can make in the $3-4MM range?

Senior Private Wealth Manager Salary

Private wealth managers can make very good money when they manage a large book. The job is prestigious but can be perceived as not as attractive as investment banking and sales and trading due to the fact that there are limited exit opportunities into completely different career paths. Also it can be perceived as less prestigious because PWMs often don't develop strong hard skills as their job revolves around cold calling and being a strong sales person. Our users discuss below.

trade4size - Sales and Trading Managing Director:

I will be short but brutally honest here. I have worked at 2 different BB in pwm and one of my family's best friend is the top FA at a MM firm.

Its really MUCH more about relationships and being a people person than it is being a financial mind. Our family friend has around 600mm AUM and brings in around 3-4mm (retail so he charges much higher fees) , he doesn't know that much about the market and he admits it but he has a great personality and people give him their money to manage.

McMo - Sales and Trading Analyst:

The top guy at my old probably made between $2-$4 million a year, maybe even more. He had about a billion under management, one junior broker, and two support staff. It took him 20 years to build his book, and he said starting out was very tough especially when he switched from salary to only commission.

Investor1:

I don't know if my office and BB is just really damn good at this Wealth Advising thing, but we had a team of two Wealth Advisors managing $1.7 billion. There was a separate team of three Wealth Advisors managing $4.5 billion. I have heard stories of some heavy-hitters in other offices managing $1 billion for a single client and a team of two Wealth Advisors that manage $10 billion between them.

I don't see how managing $2 billion in assets under management and making $3-4 million per year is a bad scenario. I understand the work in PWM is not nearly as quantitative as Trading or financial/accounting oriented as Ibanking, but the pay can be pretty good.

Everyone says these guys are older, but where I was some of these guys were late 30s and early to mid 40s. Now bankers can make those big bucks, but they reach MD level at around the same age so I don't see how bankers would make substantially more to the point where their lifestyle is any different.

User @Investor1 went on to share:

Investor1:

These top producers in Private Wealth Management don't have a very strong financial skillset. PWM is all about getting the prospect to trust you in managing his money. Obviously if your client's performance is -85% YTD, don't expect your charming personality to save your ass.

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Comments (34)

Aug 15, 2008

The top guy at my old probably made between $2-$4 million a year, maybe even more. He had about a billion under management, one junior broker, and two support staff. It took him 20 years to build his book, and he said starting out was very tough especially when he switched from salary to only commission.

Aug 15, 2008

if you charge a 100bps of AUM which is sort of standard for smaller accounts. 100mm = 1mm production

100bps is fairly steep for larger accounts fair would probably be 50 bps. That is 200mm = 1mm production.

2b aum @ 50 bps = 10mm production, of which you will see at absolute best 50% = 5mm compensation.

Sounds fairly reasonable that with 2b aum your making 3-4mm a year.

"Oh - the ladies ever tell you that you look like a fucking optical illusion?"

"Oh the ladies ever tell you that you look like a fucking optical illusion" - Frank Slaughtery 25th Hour.

Aug 15, 2008

I don't if my office and BB is just really damn good at this Wealth Advising thing, but we had a team of two Wealth Advisors managing $1.7 billion. There was a separate team of three Wealth Advisors managing $4.5 billion. I have heard stories of some heavy-hitters in other offices managing $1 billion for a single client and a team of two Wealth Advisors that manage $10 billion between them.

I don't see how managing $2 billion in assets under management and making $3-4 million per year is a bad scenario. I understand the work in PWM is not nearly as quantitative as Trading or financial/accounting oriented as Ibanking, but the pay can be pretty good.

Everyone says these guys are older, but where I was some of these guys were late 30s and early to mid 40s. Now bankers can make those big bucks, but they reach MD level at around the same age so I don't see how bankers would make substantially more to the point where their lifestyle is any different.

Do others have similar experience with many teams managing multiple billions?

Aug 15, 2008

much harder to make it far/dont develop a real skillset

when i worked in pwm as a soph my boss told me you literally spent your first 5-6 yrs cold calling for 8 hrs a day. he said 90% of his class was out within 2 yrs

Aug 15, 2008

I agree with the cold-calling constantly iambateman. I see new PWAs cold-calling all day and trying to get some traction, but most don't make it past their first 3 years.

That brings up another good point. It seems investment bankers have a significantly higher chance of making good money and even great money when compared to Wealth Advisors.

I was in PWM this summer and did gain a much stronger understanding of major asset classes, but beyond that I didn't learn any modelling, any valuation, any super useful quantitative skills. So basically I learned a limited amount of information across many areas, but failed to learn a large amount of information in one or two particular areas.

I now see why Private Wealth Advisors have no exit opportunities to hedge funds, private equitiy firms, or venture capital shops. The skills they learn are schmoozing rich people, and allocating money across major asset classes while hopefully charging as much as they can for their proprietary products. The success rate is extremely low.

I think I will forget PWM all together and tr to move into trading where I don't have to hold a CEO or the billionaire's financial guy buy the hand and explain them everything.

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Aug 15, 2008

It is very difficult to get into this elite level of PWM at a top BB. UBS has a two year program where you rotate through the different businesses of WM and hopefully at the end of two years a team lets you join their book. I am sure the other BBs have something similar. The goal for a junior person is to join an existing group or advisor that has a strong client base so you do not end up cold calling for 5-6 years.

Aug 15, 2008

Is the whole key to be a great salesman more so then being a great financial mind?

Nov 24, 2008

Its important to make a distinction between the 2 different types of financial advisors one is the independent route where u work at UBS Smith Barney morgan etc. in a branch office cold calling and building your book

the other is working as part of an established team at a place like GS there GSAM unit has a retail money management unit you work on a team with lawyers accountants CFA's etc some other BB's also have similar type set ups.

There are really no exit opportunities if you take the independent route retail brokers or wealth managers or whatever they call themselves are salesman nothing more, it would be very hard to move to say an institutional equity sales desk because you have no book of business and the skillset involved is different dealing with retail and institutional clients

if you take the second route then it will still be very tough but more respectable than the first, especially if you work for a group that actually runs the money rather than allocate it

Aug 16, 2008

I will be short but brutally honest here. I have worked at 2 different BB in pwm and one of my families best friend is the top FA at a MM firm.

Its really MUCH more about relationships and being a people person than it is being a financial mind. Our family friend has around 600mm AUM and brings in around 3-4mm (retail so he charges much higher fees), he doesnt know that much about the market and he admits it but he has a great personality and people give him their money to manage.

"Oh - the ladies ever tell you that you look like a fucking optical illusion?"

"Oh the ladies ever tell you that you look like a fucking optical illusion" - Frank Slaughtery 25th Hour.

    • 1
Aug 16, 2008
trade4size:

I will be short but brutally honest here. I have worked at 2 different BB in pwm and one of my families best friend is the top FA at a MM firm.

Its really MUCH more about relationships and being a people person than it is being a financial mind. Our family friend has around 600mm AUM and brings in around 3-4mm (retail so he charges much higher fees), he doesnt know that much about the market and he admits it but he has a great personality and people give him their money to manage.

"Oh - the ladies ever tell you that you look like a fucking optical illusion?"

I appreciate your straight forward answers. Lets say one was to work for Credit Suisse's private bank. Does working with ultra-high net worth clients make a difference when it comes to exit opportunities or is it all the same?

    • 1
Sep 13, 2008
trade4size:

I will be short but brutally honest here. I have worked at 2 different BB in pwm and one of my families best friend is the top FA at a MM firm.

Its really MUCH more about relationships and being a people person than it is being a financial mind. Our family friend has around 600mm AUM and brings in around 3-4mm (retail so he charges much higher fees), he doesnt know that much about the market and he admits it but he has a great personality and people give him their money to manage.

"Oh - the ladies ever tell you that you look like a fucking optical illusion?"

That was neither short nor brutally honest.

    • 2
Aug 16, 2008

These top producers in Private Wealth Management don't have a very strong financial skillset. PWM is all about getting the prospect to trust you in managing his money. Obviously if your client's performance is -85% YTD, don't expect your charming personality to save your ass.

    • 1
Aug 16, 2008

What about exit opportunities if working on a product team rather than a client relationship team at a BB Private Bank?

Aug 16, 2008
supermonkey:

What about exit opportunities if working on a product team rather than a client relationship team at a BB Private Bank?

Im not familar with what a product team is within pwm so I cant answer your question.

"Oh - the ladies ever tell you that you look like a fucking optical illusion?"

"Oh the ladies ever tell you that you look like a fucking optical illusion" - Frank Slaughtery 25th Hour.

Aug 16, 2008

I mean I dont really think there are "exit opportunities" in the traditional sense. Your exit opportunity is being able to build a massive book then pretty much have your younger hired staff run the book for you while you go out with clients. The exit opportunity is the lifestyle you get to live after you have several hundred million under management. That is the most common path for a sucessful FA.

Building a book is like building a business, you start something from scratch it makes you less likely to leave it for something else. Not only that your skillset is in sales/relationships.

Like the last FA i worked for said "if im in the office thats generally not a good thing, I want to be out with clients or meeting new ones"

"Oh - the ladies ever tell you that you look like a fucking optical illusion?"

"Oh the ladies ever tell you that you look like a fucking optical illusion" - Frank Slaughtery 25th Hour.

Aug 16, 2008
trade4size:

I mean I dont really think there are "exit opportunities" in the traditional sense. Your exit opportunity is being able to build a massive book then pretty much have your younger hired staff run the book for you while you go out with clients. The exit opportunity is the lifestyle you get to live after you have several hundred million under management. That is the most common path for a sucessful FA.

Building a book is like building a business, you start something from scratch it makes you less likely to leave it for something else. Not only that your skillset is in sales/relationships.

Like the last FA i worked for said "if im in the office thats generally not a good thing, I want to be out with clients or meeting new ones"

"Oh - the ladies ever tell you that you look like a fucking optical illusion?"

Sorry to keep pelting you with questions, but you have a lot of good info. I guess what I'm getting at re: exit opportunities is can you leverage experience on a private wealth team into a job in Sales& Trading, or if you don't like PWM management are you pretty much done on the street since you don't build up a lot of financial knowledge in PWM? I'm somewhat confused because when I interviewed with UBS high net worth they made it sound like you have to go through this grand certification process, they acted like they impart financial wisdom upon you.

Aug 16, 2008

As I understand it, there's more to Private Banking than just relationship management.

For example, Citi Private Bank describes their "Global Investments" team like this:

"Global Investments professionals design new and innovative products that help us to continue to be the intellectual leaders in investment management. These diverse investment opportunities, customized portfolio strategies and counseling, and expert information and advice give clients acces to world-class investment management solutions."

JPMorgan Private Bank says this:
"Investment Solutions Teams work with global product specialists in our market strategy, alternative investments, fixed income, and equity groups - to name a few. As an Analyst, you will conduct research and analysis, monitor macroeconomic developments, work on how the model portfolios will implement the team's views, assist with product development and respond to inquiries from clients and professionals within the Private Bank."

I'm interested to know more about this type of role, the skills developed, and exit opportunities.

Aug 17, 2008

Thats really as far as my answers can go. Exits from PWM into something else are very uncommon. If you want to get out I suppose you could probably attempt to go into like equity sales in S&T, not sure how common that is unfortunately.

"Oh - the ladies ever tell you that you look like a fucking optical illusion?"

"Oh the ladies ever tell you that you look like a fucking optical illusion" - Frank Slaughtery 25th Hour.

Aug 17, 2008

The only real exit opportunities from a top BB PWM position are leaving the ibank you are with to start your own Asset Management firm while taking your existing client base with you and also having a very good work/life balance one you are established and managing a couple hundred million in assets under management.

I don't think the exit opportunities into sales within sales & trading would be a very viable option. Although sales is also selling, you are selling to different types of clients than you are in PWM. In sales your clients can consist of smaller accounts (like high-net worth) but a lot of times they can consist of huge buy-side accounts where the relationship management aspect is extremely different from high-net worth individuals.

Sure, sales is less quantitative and finance-oriented than trading but a sales position within sales & trading still requires a lot more knowledge of finance and stronger quantitative skills than PWM.

UBS high-net worth is not this glamorous position where you can rake in a ton of clients by going through this certification process. The only reason why UBS is number one in PWM is because of the whole swiss-banking aura and prestige. With the one umbrella structure UBS' investment bank has been crushed and as a result high-net worth investors have gotten scared that their money is no longer safe. As such high net-worth clients of UBS have withdrawn billions and billions of dollars from PWM.

The product area being referred to is equity derivatives structuring specifically for PWM high-net worth clients and structured products designed specfiically for PWM. This is different than sales PWM because the product teams are not selling anything (usually the firm's proprietary products or even external managers) directly to clients. I don't think there are many exit opportunities from this area either because while you do gain stronger financial skills, your client base is very different in terms of their needs than the institutional side so your approach is not the same.

Aug 17, 2008

To answer your question about moving from PWM to other areas, you would need to be on a product team dedicated to PWM (ex. Managed accounts or the trading desk) to move out of PWM. As an advisor, you're business is as big as you want to make it. In order for you to transfer somewhere else, you either 1) need to be well connected, 2) be an assistant and make great inroads with in-house clients and mention that you are interested in what they do, off the cuff, of course, or 3) apply internally for a transfer. IF you're not an adivsor or an associate/assistant, and you either work in a product group or in ops, then you have more viability. If you work in Ops, move from ops to the ISP group. ISP is your investment services products group. These guys handle trading, managed accounts, PE/HF investor relations and accounting, syndicate, etc. If you work in one of these groups, you have a better shot at moving towards one of these areas within your firm. IF you work on the trading desk, you can easily make the move to an IBD S&T desk. For managed accounts, you can move into other AM roles. There are exit ops, you just need to know where to find them.

Show, honestly, your best bet if you want to move out of PWM is to pick up certifications that force you to learn new skillsets. Take the CFA or the CAIA. Get your MBA. Do something to help you move out or at least differentiate yourself from every other PWMer on the street.

Aug 17, 2008

Loads of great information in this thread guys, I really appreciate it.

Sep 13, 2008

Great stuff fellas. I have an interview next week for a PWM associate position with one of the above mentioned BBs (and I've never really considered the PWM route) so this was cool to hear. Tks

trade4size: How did you jump from PWM to trading?

Sep 13, 2008

Great stuff fellas. I have an interview next week for a PWM associate position with one of the above mentioned BBs (and I've never really considered the PWM route) so this was cool to hear. Tks

trade4size: How did you jump from PWM to trading?

Sep 14, 2008

Ideating- BURN Seriously dude no one likes you.

Joe- I have always wanted to get into trading. Family friend got me in touch with someone in trading. The rest is history

"Oh the ladies ever tell you that you look like a fucking optical illusion" - Frank Slaughtery 25th Hour.

Sep 26, 2008

depending on groups, 2mil + isnt far fetched.
even if you work with the group, your comp can be pretty generous and for the hours, its a good gig

Sep 30, 2008

There are plenty of exit ops from private banking/PWM if you work in the "analytics" divisions, which are mainly 1) Structured products 2) Investment consulting 3) Investment research 4) Discretionary portfolio management 5) Treasury

The exit ops are:

Structured products sales - Can move on to derivative sales roles in sell-side

FI/Equity/FX/Econs research - Can move on to research roles in hedge funds and long funds or sell-side equity sales roles

Discretionary portfolio management (normally multi-asset class)- Can move on to portfolio management roles in hedge funds or long funds.

Investment consulting - Can try for institutional sales roles in sellside houses

Treasury - Can practically move on to any other S&T roles

Basically within the products team in PB/PWM, candidates who fill up such roles comes from investment banks or Asset Management houses, so a career switch back to where they came from is very common after a few years in PB. Essentially the buyside analytical work done at PB is almost identical to those done at hedge funds or long funds. Take equity research for instance, some forms of financial modeling is still required and the analyst there makes the same buy/sell calls like in every other houses.

However, career switch from the client relationship roles will be slightly harder, alhtough not impossible. The client management side is all about managing clients and getting new assets, hence less time is spent on analytical work. But nonetheless, a client advisor is still required to have a strong grasp of macroeconomics and various asset classes. I have seen ex-BB client advisor making the switch sellside institutional sales roles. It all about how good and how determined you are. For client advisors thinking of making the exit to analytical roles in buyside or sellside, getting a CFA or CAIA helps as it demonstrate to future employers that you not only possess relationship management skills but strong fundemamental skills as well.

But i must say that such roles in PB/PWM are limited and highly compeitive as well. Most of the time, they hire experienced candidates directly from investment banks or asset management hosues. These people normally make the switch to PB/PWM because they probably want better work life balance and in some cases, move because of better bonus prospects in the booming private banking sector, which is the case for Asia. But such teams do take in junior hires as well.

    • 2
Oct 1, 2008
funkytommy:

There are plenty of exit ops from private banking/PWM if you work in the "analytics" divisions, which are mainly 1) Structured products 2) Investment consulting 3) Investment research 4) Discretionary portfolio management 5) Treasury

The exit ops are:

Structured products sales - Can move on to derivative sales roles in sell-side

FI/Equity/FX/Econs research - Can move on to research roles in hedge funds and long funds or sell-side equity sales roles

Discretionary portfolio management (normally multi-asset class)- Can move on to portfolio management roles in hedge funds or long funds.

Investment consulting - Can try for institutional sales roles in sellside houses

Treasury - Can practically move on to any other S&T roles

Basically within the products team in PB/PWM, candidates who fill up such roles comes from investment banks or Asset Management houses, so a career switch back to where they came from is very common after a few years in PB. Essentially the buyside analytical work done at PB is almost identical to those done at hedge funds or long funds. Take equity research for instance, some forms of financial modeling is still required and the analyst there makes the same buy/sell calls like in every other houses.

However, career switch from the client relationship roles will be slightly harder, alhtough not impossible. The client management side is all about managing clients and getting new assets, hence less time is spent on analytical work. But nonetheless, a client advisor is still required to have a strong grasp of macroeconomics and various asset classes. I have seen ex-BB client advisor making the switch sellside institutional sales roles. It all about how good and how determined you are. For client advisors thinking of making the exit to analytical roles in buyside or sellside, getting a CFA or CAIA helps as it demonstrate to future employers that you not only possess relationship management skills but strong fundemamental skills as well.

But i must say that such roles in PB/PWM are limited and highly compeitive as well. Most of the time, they hire experienced candidates directly from investment banks or asset management hosues. These people normally make the switch to PB/PWM because they probably want better work life balance and in some cases, move because of better bonus prospects in the booming private banking sector, which is the case for Asia. But such teams do take in junior hires as well.

excellent post, thanks for the info

Nov 23, 2008

x

Mar 9, 2018

Thoughts @BreakingOutOfPWM ? He's been a knowledgeable forum lurker on here.

From the people in FA/PWN that I am aware of, it is a people-person driven business. The brutal honesty of not having a book is the cold-calling aspects people start out with. I used to get phone calls from WM/PWN/FA's about letting them manage my money.

From a consumer perspective, if I can't trust you, I won't let you manage my money.

No pain no game.

Mar 11, 2018

You have to get them to "Know you, Like you, Trust you!" If you can't do that, you can't be a successful FA. They'll takr your ideas and give their money to someone else. Happens all the time.

Mar 9, 2018

My firm has pretty large minimums to open ($250k for the lowest full-service tier). There is a tiered fee structure based on AUM for the household.

As a wealth advisor, there is the potential for very good money, but it is an incredibly difficult and cutthroat business. Our senior FAs are able to choose their own fee structure, but they are capped at 2.2%. That said, the typical business model is to build a book with ~ 100 clients. Once you get the 100 clients, your 101 client should have assets that are above your lowest AUM client. That lowest client gets handed off to a junior FA.

The process is simply wash-rinse-repeat until you have a book with 100 (if you're a sole proprietor) clients that all meet your minimums, which you continually raise as your book grows. We have one team in our office where the minimum is $2.5M, but they have 8 people on the team, so their book is probably 4 - 500 accounts.

Can't get into details about how our comp works as that would be divulging too much info, but suffice it to say that, at least at my company, if you have 100 clients with $1M each, you will get paid $1M/year to handle their money, and that is if you just go by the standard fee structure.

There is money to be made out there, but you must have a niche' market, you must "get out and play in traffic", network, always be on the lookout for your next prospect.

It's not a job for everyone, and I would give it some serious consideration. You need to understand what you will be doing. Many of the senior FAs where I work are more life coaches and family counselors than they are advisors. It is an interesting position, I will say that.

Best Response
Mar 11, 2018

Excellent observation about being a "life coach". Have been an independent FA for over 25 yrs. Mange my own book and supervise several other FAs so I see many different personalities and skill sets. Some lean more on the technical side ( I kid one specifically that he has no place in retail, really should get his CFA and become a fund manager) while others are strictly relationship based. Either way, you have to be able to close business and get individuals to write checks. That is a very specific skill as it gets very personal.

Over time, (with a developed book) it's more about relationship management, creating expectations and helping clients steer through the various gates of life's stages. Anyone can grow assets over a long time frame. It's about coordinating assets with lifestyle and stage. How do they plan on using their assets, when, etc.? When do you move from growth to preservation to distribution to legacy. Each stage requires a different knowledge base.

Being a good FA is part technical knowledge (markets, taxes, products, concepts) and part human behaviorist or psychologist. Dealing with people at the retail level is very different then institutional.

As previously noted, it's not about exit ops. Building a book is building a business. You might sell it some day to go do something else or bring kids in to the practice and create legacy, but it's not a stepping stone. Some want to build and grow and add capabilities to their team. Others grow to a certain level and get comfortable with their lifestyle and enjoy helping / advising their existing clients.

I know many, many , MANY who earn 7 figures and a few closer to 8. That said, the success rate is very low and most do fizzle out within few yrs....Because they can't prospect and they can't close. Everything else is easy and learned. If you can't open new opportunities and get checks, it doesn't matter how smart you are or how well you can manage money (actually the least important part because you can hire that out to a third party like Bernstein or Rockdale or 1000 other firms).

It's a sales / relationship gig, period!

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Mar 11, 2018
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Jun 8, 2018