We are amidst the largest intergenerational wealth transfer in history. The wealth management industry is expected to grow near $230 trillion globally by 2030, intensifying competition and innovation to attain greater scale. This wealth transfer has had significant impact on a broad spectrum of stakeholders—from advisors, clients, and senior leadership teams to banks, broker-dealers, private equity firms, registered investment advisors, retirement firms, wealth managers and wealthtechs. Moreover, these stakeholders must also navigate strategic challenges spanning economic uncertainty, geopolitical risk and the availability of talent/skills.
Having said this, the long-term outlook for PE interest in wealth management looks strong: while limited partners have signaled their intent to either maintain or increase allocations to the wealth management industry, general partners have $3.6 trillion in dry powder that could be deployed to take advantage of opportunities in this space. Key stakeholders in the industry are positioning themselves for what comes next, from seeking strategic partnerships—with PE or adjacent industry partners—to enhancing their digital capabilities.
Organizations at the forefront of leadership and transformation are those orientating their culture and organizational structure towards enabling and engendering modern leadership characteristics. These perspectives are reinforced by our psychometric analysis of wealth management leaders globally.
Existing Wealth Leaders Display Modern Leadership Characteristics
Current senior wealth management leaders are already well-equipped to conceptualize and drive change. They are also well-suited to succeed based on their personalities and leadership attributes.
First, these individuals score quite similarly to digital transformation leaders. They are innovative, with an inclination to generate new ideas; ambitious and bold in driving change; and socially proactive and attuned to the needs of diverse audiences. The combination of an aspiration to learn and evolve, with a desire to bring others along for the journey, makes wealth management leaders well-suited to strengthen their businesses to meet the changing needs of clients.
Second, wealth management leaders exhibit several characteristics that set them apart from broader financial services leaders and position them to lead wealth businesses through the changing market landscape. These leaders are:
- Empathetic towards clients and colleagues: focused on the ‘greater good,’ these leaders show an overwhelming desire to do the right thing for clients and colleagues
- Commercially oriented: fiercely commercial and keen to make financially sound decisions that set the business up for continued success
- Collaborative and extroverted: dynamic, energetic and magnetic, wealth management leaders draw others in, positioning them to effectively engage a range of clients and stakeholders throughout the change journey
To build on their existing strong positioning while positively influencing their broader organizations to unlock future growth, wealth management leaders must be well prepared culturally, organizationally and technologically in creating digitally enhanced, financial planning experiences in an increasingly personalized and digitally-led environment.
The Future of the Modern Wealth Management Leader
Modern wealth management leaders are well-equipped to handle fast-paced industry transformations. This is supported by our proprietary psychometric analysis that shows best-in-class, modern wealth management leaders demonstrate the following complementary traits:
- Innovative in mindset, bold in driving change, and possess the social acuity to bring others along, displaying many of the same characteristics ascribed to digital transformation leaders.
- “Productive Disruptors,” suggesting they are not only equipped to handle change, but also likely to be change agents.
Therefore, in wealth management’s future, industry leaders—executive or non-executive—need to take an honest look at whether their talent, culture, and organizational structure are all well positioned for the changes ahead. When assessing their businesses, wealth management firms should consider:
- How do their leaders stack up in terms of their transformational leadership attributes?
- How do their current culture and organizational structures enable leaders to be successful?
- How do they know what their clients are seeking? How does that inform their decisions?
- Do they have the requisite digital capabilities? If not, how are they developing or acquiring them?
- In M&A situations, what are they doing to improve, reinforce, or sustain the culture(s)? How are they evaluating new talent and creating an environment in which different styles can thrive?
While we believe the future of wealth management looks promising, the present landscape does not offer a clear path to success. To ensure that they do not get left behind some of their more progressive rivals, wealth managers need to not only develop their digital capabilities, but also empower their bench of talent to culturally, organizationally, and technologically capitalize on the opportunities ahead. Those that succeed will do so by enriching existing talent, cultivating a culture and organizational structure for success, and optimizing strategic partnerships to unlock competitive advantages for market share growth. In short, they need to be modern leaders.
Megan Bowen directs searches for C-suite executives within the consumer banking, commercial banking, and wealth management sectors, leveraging her research expertise to find top talent for each executive position. Based in New York, Megan has a diverse client base of financial services companies, aiding global money centers, regional banks, wealth managers, registered investment advisors and payments and lending companies on their executive searches. Some of her successful placements include companies within the finance, operations, treasury, marketing, product, compliance and risk, and customer experience spaces. Megan developed research expertise in her previous role as a research associate for a large international executive search firm. There she worked closely with consultants on the recruitment of C-suite, senior executive and board roles. She also worked at Ariel Investments as a marketing and client services associate, where she consulted on more than 50 global clients. Megan holds a BA in politics from Princeton University, where she was also on the four-time Ivy League championship women’s basketball team.