San Francisco, CA – February 4, 2008 – NorthStar Systems International (NorthStar) Inc., a leading provider of wealth management software, today announced the results of one of the largest and most comprehensive surveys on wealth management trends in North America. The landmark survey is based on feedback from all wealth management segments. NorthStar’s online survey was distributed to its 5,000-member wealth management community, representing the diverse population now competing for high net worth (HNW) investors - not only traditional players such as banks, trusts, multi-family offices, and broker-dealers but also emerging providers such as insurance companies, hedge funds and registered independent advisors. NorthStar reported over 160 responses from all segments.
“NorthStar conducted the survey to gain insight into 2008 industry, firm and technology trends in wealth management,” said Collin Cohen, president of NorthStar. ”The vast majority of firms expect continued double-digit growth in 2008, indicating wealth management is a vibrant, healthy business even in these volatile times.”
Wealth management firms cited many issues as major challenges. The top two were client acquisition and competition for wealth managers, with client retention and more demanding clients tied for third. In fact, respondents ranked nine challenges as major, suggesting the wealth management industry is undergoing a significant transformation.
Although 65% of respondents said their firms are doing well or very well relative to the industry, they voiced concern about how they will be able to support their business operationally. With 75% of respondents saying they are somewhat or very frustrated with their current software tools, over 88% agree or strongly agree that "a strong wealth management platform is critical to growing a financial advisory practice" in 2008.
“When it comes to investing for growth, the majority favor an integrated advisor desktop as their primary technology expenditure this year,” Cohen explained. “Respondents demonstrated a clear preference for a wealth management platform, ideally one fully integrated to their existing CRM system, in order for advisors to provide holistic advice and firms to achieve profitable growth in this challenging 2008 market.”
Summary of Survey Results: Top 2008 Wealth Management Trends
Industry Trends: Firms Focus on Holistic Growth for Clients and Business
· More HNW investors will seek advice, but they want holistic advice, not from traditional advisors or investment generalists, but from wealth managers.
· HNW investors seek growth as their primary objective, but they want less risk than in 2007.
· Wealth managers agree that the greatest challenges they face are client and asset acquisition and the war for talent.
Firm Trends: Firms Turn to Process Improvements to Achieve Growth Targets
· 61.7% of wealth managers expect double-digit revenue growth in 2008.
· Process and software improvements related to client acquisition and client reporting are deemed the best ways to scale a wealth management practice instead of hiring and training.
Technology Trends: Firms Can’t Scale Without Investing in a Platform
· 75% of wealth managers are frustrated with their current software tools.
· 88% of wealth managers believe a wealth management platform is critical to firm growth.
· The majority of wealth managers seek an integrated advisor desktop or wealth management platform.
Due to the strong interest expressed in the results, NorthStar plans to conduct this survey annually. Beginning February 5, 2008, go to www.northstar.com to view complete survey results with graphics and listen to Cohen’s podcast on the survey’s implications.
About NorthStar Systems International
NorthStar’s enterprise-class solutions, delivered either on-premise or on-demand, enable firms of all sizes and their advisors to dramatically improve productivity, accelerate revenue growth, and drive profitability. NorthStar’s innovative suite of pre-packaged wealth management solutions includes Client Acquisition, Client Reporting, Product Catalog and Compliance. For more information about NorthStar, its premier clients and award-winning offerings, visit www.northstar.com.