Private wealth management is a specialized branch of the investment community that provides one-stop shopping for a whole host of products and services needed by the wealthy—typically defined as those who have liquid assets of more than $1 million (not including the value of one’s primary residence). Many prestigious private banks and wealth management firms have much higher minimums, more than $5 million in some cases, and provide services only to the richest of the rich.
The National Banking Act of 1863 provided the basis of a national banking system in the United States and the establishment of a national currency, which prompted growing confidence in our nation’s financial systems. As the U.S. became more industrialized, a growing number of wealthy industrialists, bankers, and other high-wealth individuals began to seek out the services of wealth managers to manage and grow their capital.
In subsequent decades, demand for wealth management professionals grew rapidly, but declined during financial crises—such as the Great Depression (1929–39) and the Great Recession (December 2007 to June 2009)—and various banking and financial scandals.
In recent years, the wealth management industry has resumed its strong growth as the number of millionaires and billionaires increases. In 2014, total assets under management (AUM) reached a record $74 trillion worldwide, according to The Boston Consulting Group, a professional services and consultancy firm. Between 2007 and 2014, total AUM grew by about 26 percent—and industry profits reached a historic peak of $102 billion, matching their 2007 high before the financial crisis.
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