If you want a wealthy clientele, lessons provided by investment firms show you must focus on your relationship skills. Trust is a vital component to build relationships.

For wealthy clients, this means you need to provide exclusivity, special client experiences with generosity and product quality.

These are the qualities exhibited by successful boutique wealth-management firms.

There are good reasons – actually very obvious reasons – why some wealth management firms are growing and others aren’t.

A 2014 study by the Luxury Institute confirms what this business-coaching portal has long advocated.

Any time you handle someone’s money, you must take great care to build trust. In fact, bank woes provide lessons for all companies seeking growth.

Study’s respondents

A Luxury Institute press release indicated investors with an average net worth of $15 million and annual average income of $800,000 shared their detailed opinions of 39 leading firms in the wealth management business.

The study shows boutique wealth management firms increasingly have brand approval among multi-millionaires.

In fact, firms such as UBS and Merrill Lynch are suffering, as a result.

“Consumers are opting for boutique firms,” says Luxury Institute CEO Milton Pedraza. “Wealthy consumers really value relationships and the smaller boutique firms really deliver.”

He says Merrill Lynch fell to last place out of 39 firms. UBS Private Wealth Management came in second to last. Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Charles Schwab rounded out the bottom five.

Brand perceptions

Negative press coverage about legal problems has adversely impacted the biggest of such firms, including Bank of America and Goldman Sachs. Other big brands, including, Citi Private Bank, Barclays Wealth, HSBC Private Bank and Wells Fargo also ranked in the bottom half of brands.

“Any time you have news that’s a negative in the media, these firms are going to get hit,” confirms Mr. Pedraza. “The larger firms took a beating.”

While the specific rankings tend to vary from year to year, quartile placement remains relatively stable, according to Mr. Pedraza.

While dropping slightly from its number three spot in 2013, Bessemer Trust made the top five list several years in a row. Brown Brothers Harriman, which took the top spot in 2013 and in 2012, tumbled off the top-five list.

Northern Trust, Vanguard Personal Investors and J.P. Morgan Private Wealth Management also fell out of the top five.

Set up in 1882 as the Rockefeller family office, New York-based Rockefeller & Co. earns the highest score. Ranking closely behind Rockefeller & Co. are Atlanta-based Atlantic Trust Private Wealth Management, and Convergent Wealth Advisors. First Republic Private Wealth Management, and Bessemer Trust round out the top five.

The bottom-line:

“Successful wealth managers are relationship builders first, and, since few can beat the markets in the long run, money managers second,” adds Mr. Pedraza.

From the Coach’s Corner, to build trust, here are more specific tips for a variety of businesses:

To Sell Ideas to Senior Executives, Tap into Their Emotions — If you want to persuade a senior executive, polish your soft skills. Whether you’re trying to sell your ideas to your CEO or you’re trying to sell to a key decision maker at another company, big data is important. But data isn’t the most important factor in persuading senior executives.

Want More Business? Build Trust with Consumers…Here’s How — With consumers trying to cope with information overload – you will increase sales with long-term customer loyalty – if you build trust by using best practices. It may be an obvious approach, but it’s confirmed by a 2012 study that shows 84 percent of the respondents declared trust must be warranted before they buy.

Energize Your Customer-Loyalty Program with 6 Steps — The quickest way for established businesses to optimize revenue is to have a stellar customer-loyalty program — there are six steps you can take for repeat sales and referrals. If you’re not a great steward of your current book of business, it’s futile to look for new customers.

Consultants – 5 Strategies to Build Trust with Clients — The five strategies that enhance relationships between consultants and clients.

Thought Leadership — Why Companies Hire Management Consultants — Companies want knowledge. A good idea can be worth $1 million and more. That’s why companies hire thought leaders. It’s also why you see many consultants position themselves as thought leaders and give away free information in how-to articles or studies, which lead to books, seminars and being quoted in the media.

“Trust everybody, but cut the cards.”

-Finley Peter Dunne


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.