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Big Fish

Financial advisors devote considerable effort to attracting and retaining households with substantial assets. There is a reason for it: larger households bolster an advisor’s assets under management and increase growth trajectory. Because of this, talk of catching “big fish” or even landing a “whale” is commonplace in wealth management.

At the same time, discussions of high net worth households contain a certain ambiguity. In the absence of benchmarks, advisors, managers, and industry analysts are left to their own working definitions. In other words, figurative talk of fish and whales occurs in the absence of data.

This paper provides answers to the following questions:

  • what counts as “high net worth”?
  • what proportion of the market is made up by high net worth households?
  • beyond assets, what are the characteristics of high net worth households?
  • what do high net worth households pay their financial advisors?
  • what characteristics lead to an advisor getting more than their fair share of high net worth households?

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