Wealth Management Trends 2022

The wealth management trends for 2022 show new approaches will be needed to thrive in the current climate.

Just as the world is ready to move past the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new global economic storm is brewing.

These developments will affect the way wealth managers think, invest, and operate. While there will be difficulties, there are opportunities for those who adjust and adapt.

12 Wealth Management Trends for 2022

1. COVID Variants and International Conflict Bring Stock Market Uncertainty

Thank goodness for the vaccines, but new variants could limit their effectiveness, especially as most of the world is still unvaccinated.

We saw Delta last summer, and we saw Omicron at the end of 2021 and through the start of this year.

A resurgent virus could lead to more lockdowns and reduced economic activity, which hurts the markets and client’s investment portfolios.

Even if markets recover, newer and more dangerous variants can emerge.

If that wasn't enough, Russia's invasion of Ukraine adds to the volatility.

In what is now the biggest humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War 2, things will remain on edge. Sanctions, disrupted supply chains, and damaged infrastructure will affect the markets.

2. Mixed Stock Performance Projections in 2022

With the ongoing war in Ukraine, the International Monetary Fund has cut its global growth forecast.

"We think that we would be downgrading our growth projects as a result of this crisis," said Kristalina Georgieva, a managing director for the IMF, "but we still expect the world to be in positive growth territory."

But even before the conflict in Ukraine, a number of experts and analysts already predicted a "less bullish outlook".

According to Savita Subramanian, Head of US Equity & Quantitative Strategy at Bank of America, the S&P 500 is poised to end 2022 about flat compared to 2021 levels.

There are four major reasons for this potential scenario:

There indeed were more bullish projections, like JPMorgan's, but given the above scenarios, there are many factors that can hurt corporate earnings, impacting growth outlooks and bottom lines.  

3. Hedge Against Inflation - Investment Strategies

Of course, wealth managers need to diversify and hedge against inflation. Public equity investments alone may not be enough, though certain sectors will perform well. There are many strategies to take, and here a few considerations:

Energy

Energy has been the best-performing sector in 2021. That said, energy is prone to boom-and-bust cycles. As we’re in an inflationary period, this is when the sector typically shines.

Furthermore, oil and gas prices have skyrocketed due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. As the US and European countries plan to phase out their consumption of Russian energy, the limited supplies of oil and gas on the market will keep prices high.

Gold

Because of the pandemic, governments around the world have printed more money to stimulate their economies. The U.S. is no exception, and inflation is at its highest level in 30 years.

Gold holds its value pretty well in times like this, so having gold part of your clients’ portfolios isn’t a bad idea.

Real Estate

Historically, owning property is one of the single greatest contributors to building wealth over the long term.

And with more money in circulation, investors look for a place to hedge against inflation. Inflation makes real estate attractive for three reasons:

  • Property values increase over the long term, and they will rise along with inflation.
  • If you own rental property, the increase in housing prices allow for higher rent, generating more rental income
  • Purchasing property, you lock in fixed-rate mortgage payments, and those payments are less burdensome over time, assuming you have more dollars in hand via inflation. You build equity while payments stay the same of the course of the loan.

This Forbes article explains in greater detail the value of real estate as a hedge against inflation.

As mentioned above, these are just a few considerations. You can take a look at these other assets to protect against inflation.

4. The Rise of Private Equity in Wealth Management

Private equity investing is no longer just for large institutional investors.

Private equity firms recognize there’s so much capital out there (trillions) left on the table, and more and more PE firms are marketing themselves to attract that capital.

Smaller- and medium-sized wealth managers will have more opportunity to invest in PE, as private investments have outperformed their public counterparts.

Check out our recent post on the rise in private equity investing for wealth managers.

5. Cryptocurrency, Digital Assets Part of a Wealth Management Portfolio

Still a relative newcomer, cryptocurrency is a growing investment option.

According to a survey from the University of Chicago, 13% of Americans have purchased or traded cryptocurrencies over a 12-month period, compared with 24% who trade stocks.

And it’s getting harder for wealth advisors to avoid this conversation with clients.  A survey from the Financial Planning Association and Journal of Financial Planning revealed the following: 49% of advisors said clients have asked about cryptocurrencies in the first 6 months of 2021, up from 17% in 2020.

What’s more, 26% of advisors plan to increase how much they use and recommend cryptocurrencies in the next 12 months (June 2021 – June 2022).

This surely presents an opportunity for wealth advisors who are willing and open to exploring.

Of course, It’s not without risk (what isn’t?). But as crypto continues its mainstream trajectory, exploring digital assets is less and less a far-fetched idea.

"I did [cryptocurrency investing] because I saw how active the Federal Reserve was and how much they were diluting the dollar."
- Ivory Johnson, Founder of Delaney Wealth Management
"Folks are realizing now that [cryptocurrency] is not going away."
- Tyrone Ross, CEO of Onramp Invest

Cryptocurrency Gets Boost from the White House

The recent executive order, signed by US President Joe Biden, calls for the Department of Treasury and other federal agencies to study the impact of cryptocurrency on financial stability and security.

This executive order is widely interpreted as paving the way for the expanded use and legitimacy of cryptocurrency.

Not surprisingly, shares of crypto-related companies and funds jumped in value after the news.

"Biden just gave crypto companies the green light to exist. What they have to do now is behave responsibly."
- David Wachsman, the CEO of Wachsman PR

6. Fee Compression Continues

The downward pressure on fees continues, hitting new record lows.

Larger competitors like BlackRock and Vanguard are cutting their fees, putting pressure on smaller asset and wealth managers alike.

While bigger firms can withstand lower fees due to their sheer size and growth of clientele, smaller organizations do not have that luxury.

Responding to increased competition and fee compression will be an important area of focus on wealth management trends, mentioned in sections below.

7. Hybrid Work a Permanent Fixture in Wealth Management Work Culture

Since March 2020, the transition from office to home has been a success, a PwC report illustrated. More than 70% of financial services employers surveyed found work-from-home to be successful or very successful.

Employees are less tolerant than ever of commuting to and from an office, as shown in many cases the work can be done just as well at home.

That’s not to say in-person meetings and collaboration are not important. They are very much important, but is it 5 days a week important? Probably not.

And now with gas prices hitting all-time highs, employees will be less enthused about regular commutes to the office.

If you can save your employees the time and money not having to commute to and from work, you will do them a lot of favors. Not offering a hybrid work environment will be a hindrance to attracting new talent.

The other question is, do you need all that office space? One of our earlier posts discusses the topic of office space for RIAs.

8. Focus on ESG

Over the last 2 years, it seems like there has been a “crisis” in all areas: public health, social, political, economic, and environmental.

With that, there’s a growing consciousness among wealth managers and clients alike that they cannot stand idly by anymore.

Clients want investments that reflect their values, and they want to invest in companies that contribute to positive outcomes.

In addition, an Accenture survey found that 71% of investors want to engage with an advisor whose values are aligned with their own.

ESG isn’t just a “fad.” ESG is a real wealth management trend with staying power, and it is big business.

Sustainable investing now accounts for 35.9% of assets under management in the US, Canada, Japan, Australasia, and Europe, up from 33.4% in 2018.

9. Generational Wealth Transfers

For the last few years, there has been talk about the “Great Wealth Transfer.”

Year by year, it comes ever closer.

The Baby Boomer generation, roughly defined as those born between the mid-1940s and mid-1960s, will soon retire in ever larger numbers. 

As that happens, they will pass on wealth to children and grandchildren, collectively amounting to $30 trillion.

Wealth advisors need to think about their older clientele: when are they passing wealth and assets to beneficiaries? Who will the beneficiaries decide to manage their newly inherited money?

Wealth management firms should think about how to ways to keep the business of the older clients’ beneficiary family members.

Wealth Transfer Under a Biden Administration

A year into office, the Biden administration and Democrats have sights set on some of these areas:

  • Raising taxes on the highest income brackets
  • Closing loopholes that once made estate and gift taxes possible to avoid.

Depending on what legislation gets passed and when it takes effect, that may influence when and how your wealth management clients transfer assets.

10. More Advisory Firms, Fewer Winners

There are now over 13,500 registered investment advisors in the United States, an increase of nearly 10% since 2017.

In spite of the growth in wealth and the demand for talent, there is another challenge in that a disproportionate amount of assets could be concentrated in the hands of fewer advisors.

With growing competition and an increasingly digital atmosphere, wealth managers must adapt technologically to stay ahead.

Good marketing, sales, and networking are also important. Check out some of our recent content around these topics:

11. Older Advisors Planning to Retire

About 40% of financial advisors plan to retire within 10 years, according to CNBC. In fact, there are more certified planners over the age of 70 than there are under 30.

For business owners close to retirement, they should think about succession planning for their business, as well as attracting new talent. 

This includes outreach to college students, in particular women and minorities who are currently underrepresented in the investment industry. Expanding and cultivating the talent base is a win for all wealth management firms. 

12. Personalized Wealth Management Services; Leveraging Technology

The great wealth management companies know how to tailor the client experience, making optimal use of human capital and technology.

Furthermore, the call for digital adoption among wealth managing firms is nothing new. It’s a message loudly proclaimed even before the pandemic.

Candice Carlton, senior vice president of adviser education at FiComm Partners, stated it best as quoted in this InvestmentNews article

“To stay relevant, it is critical that the adviser of today stay connected in a high-touch, digitally enhanced way to drive loyalty, trust and wallet share. Clients now expect their advisers to add value beyond the traditional financial plan and twice a year in-person meeting…  advisers need help in learning how to adopt and use modern communication mediums to supercharge their prospect and client experience.”

AI & Robotic Process Automation

As wealth management competition intensifies, moving fast in an efficient manner is more than ever.

Download Our Automation Guide

New technology is making it possible to do more in less time and with fewer resources.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the tools to help. Machine learning can help wealth managers recognize patterns, anticipate future events, create rules, make good decisions, and communicate with others.

AI is big business. The global AI software market is projected to grow rapidly in the coming years, reaching USD $126 billion by 2025.

And by 2024, 75% of organizations will shift from piloting to operationalizing artificial intelligence, according to Gartner.

Despite the known benefits, just one-third of wealth managers in North America are currently scaling AI across their businesses.

“The findings suggest that although wealth managers are eager to embrace AI, they largely haven’t been able to move beyond experimentation toward widespread organizational application at scale. They also appear to underestimate the long-term value of AI, coupled with data and analytics, to reinvent the client experience.”

- Scott Reddel, Managing Director of Capital Markets & Wealth Management at Accenture

To learn more about AI use cases and benefits for investment managers, check out this Deloitte report.

While AI focuses on the independent learning of machines, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) focuses on performing routine and predictable tasks.

Repeatable steps like downloading statements, storing files, and emailing reports can be done through RPA. In fact, has Empaxis has developed tools to help in these areas, helping investment firms of all kinds.

Broadridge survey revealed that 57% of financial firms have long-term plans to increase automation through RPA and AI.

Data & Analytics

We live in a data-driven world.

In an increasingly competitive space, wealth managers need accurate, up-to-date information to allow for faster decision-making

Having the means to aggregate data and see it in a nice, clean and customizable format is indeed helpful.

And it’s not just for the wealth managers; it’s for their clients, too. Clients across all age ranges are coming to expect modern fintech from their advisors.

Even older clients that generally shunned new technology are now opening to it, given the importance of protecting their health during the pandemic.

Clients should have easy and instant access to their portfolio details, via cloud-based technology.

It’s to a point where these features are no longer just nice additions; they are necessities.

Good data is a significant part of a firm’s credibility. Having the right data management and portfolio management platforms like TAMP1 can help.

Outsourcing

Being an expert at everything is not easy, nor is it necessary. Wealth management executives and their staff should focus on what they do best: investing and client servicing.

Admin and operational work are important, but they’re not the main reasons for going into business. For anything that is non-core and a cost of doing business, it can be outsourced.

Fidelity survey on outsourcing for wealth managers shows just the value that can be had from leveraging third parties. In short, those who outsourced were more likely to report a growth in clients and larger AUM.

Download our white paper: Making Outsourcing Work

The Next Step for Wealth Managers

The recent wealth management trends show opportunities and challenges facing the industry, and firms should look at the trends to develop a strategy around an investing, operations, technology, client servicing, etc.

The lingering presence of COVID-19 will continue having a significant impact on the way the wealth managers run their businesses, and their strategies should take into account the memories and lessons learned from the pandemic.

Despite the challenges, there is nonetheless opportunity out there for wealth managers; they just have to prepare and position themselves accordingly.

Empaxis is a leading provider of operational and technology solutions for wealth managers, helping them increase efficiency and scale while cutting costs. Looking to improve your organization? We can help.

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