The Morgan and Rothschild families have both been synonymous with finance and the stewardship of wealthy individuals’ assets since the nineteenth century. The private banks bearing their names remain acknowledged leaders in the wealth management industry today.
Maya Prabhu, managing director, head of wealth Advisory, EMEA at JP Morgan Private Bank, and Olivier Trémeaud, group head of wealth solutions at Edmond de Rothschild, share their views on the opportunities and challenges facing ultra-high-net-worth individuals today.
KEY SESSION HIGHLIGHTS
· JP Morgan Private Bank and Edmond de Rothschild believe their clients have similar demands and expectations.
· Foremost among these is responding to the volatility in today’s markets and identifying opportunities arising from this turbulence.
· Prabhu and Trémeaud both recognise that intense market volatility is inevitably creating challenges for wealth managers. This makes maintaining an open and transparent dialogue with clients doubly important. ‘It’s essential to communicate and to explain why markets are volatile,’ says Trémeaud. ‘Don’t even think about making excuses. Explain.’
· Family offices are able to take a much longer-term view of their investments than mainstream institutions such as insurance companies. Trémeaud describes them as the only investors – alongside sovereign funds – that have an investment horizon of 50 years or longer.
· This long term perspective means that an essential part of the service provided by JP Morgan Private Bank and Edmond de Rothschild is identifying their clients’ investment goals. Are these to generate growth? To ensure capital preservation? To safeguard the security and freedom of their children? Or to support charitable and philanthropic causes? In most cases, ultra-high-net-worth individuals’ aspirations will encompass more than one of these aims.
· Assessing these long-term objectives is a central pillar of succession planning. For the wealth manager, recognising that each client has different priorities is critical. ‘Succession does not just happen; there has to be a plan behind it,’ says Prabhu.
· Longer life expectancy is complicating this process because it means that the requirements of different generations may need to be managed simultaneously. It may also mean encouraging children to engage more actively in their parents’ businesses at an earlier stage. When they do so, it is desirable that they are given a degree of independence. ‘Providing early empowerment and retaining their right to fail is an important way of allowing the next generation to be themselves rather than to hide behind their parents’ shadows,’ says Trémeaud.
· The most visible way in which the aspirations and objectives of the present generation of wealth management clients differ from those of their parents is in their attitudes to environmental, social and governance investment. Prabhu says that this generation of ultra-high-net-worth individuals tends to be more agile than institutional investors and is therefore better positioned to accelerate and influence the drive towards sustainable finance.
· This need not be confined to investment designed to mitigate the impact of climate change and environmental degradation. Investors asking themselves what it means to be wealthy in 2022 and what it will mean to be a high-net-worth individual in 2032 will increasingly widen their focus to encompass other challenges. Examples would include social inequality and the financing of the just transition towards net zero.
· This may progressively blur the boundaries that used to exist between philanthropy and mainstream investment. ‘Increasingly the same values are underpinning how people run their business and their investments, and how they implement their philanthropy strategies,’ says Prabhu.
· Return expectations may shift to reflect this dynamic, which Edmond de Rothschild calls ‘impact first’. ‘We may not match the returns we can generate in private equity, but we will support the innovation and social impact that investors want,’ says Trémeaud.
· Rothschild believes the next wave of the sustainable investment revolution will see a reduced emphasis on individual sectors, with more thought given to the system-wide impact of climate change. This means focusing, for example, not just on the ocean but on the ecosystem around it.