In 2012, the U.S. wealth management industry finally caught up to the pre-financial crisis asset levels of 2007. A good deal of that was due to the Federal Reserve’s economic stimulus measures that goosed the markets and boosted asset levels of investors, but who’s complaining (at least from a financial standpoint)?
According to Aite Group, 2012 was the first year since the financial crisis that each wealth management subsegment grew assets by at least 8%, and overall industry assets jumped more than 10%, to almost $14.9 trillion.
In Aite’s recent report, New Realities in Wealth Management: Market on the Rebound?, the Boston-based research firm found that independent RIAs saw the biggest rise in assets (18%) last year, followed by discount and online brokers (12%). Wirehouse firms, self-clearing brokers other than wirehouses, and fully disclosed broker-dealers all experienced growth between 8% and 9%.
But speaking of the Fed, the market volatility related to its future plans for the end of quantitative easing––witness the temper tantrum investors threw in the spring after the Fed said it could soon start slowing its stimulus measures––means that wealth managers aren’t out of the woods yet.
“Advisors bear substantial reputational risk in determining how to proceed, whether by missing an apparent stock rally or advising clients to boost stock positions when the current rally could prove temporary because of unresolved polity issues,” Aite wrote in its report.