(Dow Jones) Lawrence Hughes, the man Bank of New York Mellon (BK) recently picked to lead its wealth-management division, foresees nearly unprecedented hardship for the private-client industry over the next 10 years.
But he also sees opportunity. Firms that are ready for a protracted phase of market volatility, rising tax rates and a client base jaded by Wall Street's near meltdown in 2008 could see equally unusual growth during that same period.
Hughes replaced David Lamere as chief executive officer of BNY Mellon Wealth Management in May. He has been helping set the wealth-management agenda for Bank of New York Mellon and its predecessor Mellon Financial since the early 1990s, most recently as head of U.S. client service and sales.
The advent of a new leader isn't a prelude to radical change, says Hughes. "We've been marvelously successful up till now, and during the crisis (of 2008 and 2009) we did record business."
But Hughes' promotion coincides with the advent of a three-part plan to help BNY Mellon Wealth Management, which managed about $157 billion at the end of March, make further headway in the second decade of the twenty-first century.
The first component calls for increased rigor around portfolio construction and monitoring, and providing investment strategies to help clients seize tactical opportunities.
"In the past you could take a 'set it and forget it' approach," says Hughes. "But we're in a period when investment themes that used to last for years are now disappearing in weeks or months." He points to the recent and rapid run-up and fall of high-yield bonds as an example.
Applying such fleeting opportunities to private-client portfolios calls for more than market savvy, however. An understanding of the client's holdings with respect to their tax and estate implications, and their impact on the client's lifestyle aspirations and long-term legacy plans, is needed before effective tactical strikes can be made, says Hughes.
This holistic approach ties in with the second component of BNY Mellon Wealth Management's 10-year plan.
"We're committed to planning that goes beyond the silos," says Hughes. In an environment of rapid change, "the view that investments or estate and wealth-transfer plans or the liability side or the tax situation are in separate silos can (lead to) costly mistakes."