Over the past decade, new wealth was being created in more ways than ever before. One of the new and powerful sources of wealth creation that emerged during this time was corporate employment. Senior-level executives and long-term employees built large nest eggs through a combination of big salaries, large bonuses, generous retirement and deferred compensation programs and lucrative stock options and profit-sharing arrangements. The difference from before, however, was that most of this wealth was concentrated in the employing organization, a problem much-covered by the media in the wake of the accounting scandals that put numerous firms out of business. As a result, most corporate executives are attuned to this issue and want assistance and expertise that can help them diversify their holdings, temper the risk associated with their portfolios and access their illiquid wealth.
In 2006, we conducted a telephone-based research survey with 227 corporate executives who each had a minimum of $500,000 in personal investments and average investable assets of $860,000. For the most part, corporate executives are a group of individuals who by a very early age have amassed significant assets-that are usually concentrated in a single holding or are inaccessible because of vesting schedules, or both. More than 90% of the survey respondents were under the age of 60, with 48% between the ages of 45 and 60 and 46.3% under the age of 45. Just 5.7% of the survey participants were older than 60. As a result, most of these executives have a number of peak earning years ahead of them and will continue to grow their personal wealth. From an advisory standpoint, this has a number of implications: Addressing their diversification issues now will help them with future earnings, their financial needs will change dramatically as they and their families age and they could be clients with long-term potential.
Women are better represented among the executive ranks than they are in most segments of affluent investors. More than 40% of our survey respondents, 42.3%, were female and the balance, 57.7%, were male.

Current Needs Color
Interest In Products
An important aspect of dealing effectively with corporate executives is understanding their perceptions and preconceived notions about specific financial products. Investments are, far and away, the product of highest interest for corporate executives, with 81.9% of survey respondents ranking it as very or extremely interesting. This is not surprising, as most executives are still in the process of growing their wealth and want to explore every option to do so. Additionally, they are seeking complementary holdings that will help diversify their portfolios and minimize the risk associated with a concentrated stock position.
The second product area of interest was credit, with 37.9% of respondents ranking it as important, which speaks to the younger age range of executives and the need for credit to acquire homes, cars and other lifestyle necessities.
Estate planning, charitable giving, trust services and asset protection were considered third-tier products-perhaps capabilities they will need in the future as their net worth has grown and they are better prepared to discuss transfer and succession issues.
Services such as retirement, life insurance, deferred compensation and cash management get very little interest, as most of these are provided as part of a typical employment benefits package and redundant coverage is uncalled for.

Estate Planning Is A
Key To Business Expansion
Despite the youth of most corporate executives, all our survey respondents had taken the time to develop estate plans. However, as is often the case, most plans were woefully out of date and not reflective of the respondents' current net worth and their desires for those assets (Exhibit 1).
Advisors who can help executives provide for their families and heirs, prepare adequately for unforeseen events, pursue any philanthropic goals and navigate the confusing and complex task of estate planning will be well-positioned to assume other responsibilities.
As often happens during the estate planning process, other professionals are needed to execute the plan. An advisor who works closely and consultatively with an executive and provides their own expertise and access to a network of other professionals will be first in line to manage a major portion of the liquid assets once stocks, retirement plans and deferred compensation are free of vesting schedules. Also, ongoing involvement with the team of experts often reveals other opportunities that might not be visible to a less engaged advisor.

Finding And Keeping
Corporate Executives As Clients
The best methods of accessing affluent corporate executives are no different than the best methods to access the broader universe of private wealth, and that is through centers of influence-other professional advisors to the wealthy, such as accountants and tax attorneys-and through satisfied current clients. When executives who participated in the research survey were asked how they found their primary advisor, 35.7% cited a center of influence and 31.7% said they were referred by another client of the advisor (Exhibit 2).
Client executives are more likely than other affluent subsegments to attend an educational seminar to learn about investment techniques and strategies, and almost 16% said they had sourced their primary advisor in that fashion. Although other methods were identified in the survey, it is essential to realize that centers of influence and other clients account for nearly 70% of all referrals and overshadow other marketing activities in effectiveness.

Satisfaction And Retention
Today, only 22.5% of corporate executives characterize themselves as very satisfied with their primary advisory relationship. This is meaningful for a number of reasons-the most obvious being that the 77.5% who are dissatisfied or only moderately satisfied will more readily consider working with another advisor, and will eventually take their business elsewhere if things don't change. There also is a negative multiplier effect to having dissatisfied clients. Research clearly shows that a client must have a high level of satisfaction before they will refer a friend, family member or colleague. So the longer that mediocre client relationships are sustained without improvement, the smaller the pool of potential referral sources becomes.

Long-Term Potential
Corporate executives are a wealthy group of individuals with unique financial needs. They are open to working with professionals who can help them address those needs and prepare them for a future of continued earning and advancement. Advisors who work with corporate employees and executives must be aware of the specific circumstances surrounding their wealth, and familiarize themselves with the policies and procedures of each employing organization. Corporate executives can bring important growth opportunities to their advisor-a long-term relationship filled with changing needs and expanding wealth, and access to their colleagues who may have similar needs and priorities. 

Hannah Shaw Grove is an authority on high-net-worth individuals and the executive editor of Private Wealth. Russ Alan Prince is the president of Prince & Associates Inc., the world's leading high-net-worth research and consulting firm.