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Can someone comment on career prospects in private wealth management? I attended an NYU Stern Admissions Event recently and one of the alumnae there was working at Goldmach Sachs in Private Wealth Management. She said it wasn't something she had originally intended on pursuing but sort of stumbled upon it and grew to like it.
I currently work in PWM at MSSB. PWM can mean many different things depending on where the person works. Yes, there is PWM at banks, but the majority of PWM gets done at the major wire houses (ie. Merrill, MSSB, UBS, JPM, and at indpendents like LPL, Raymond James, etc). PWM can be a very general or specialized career.
The general path would most likely include someone who works as a Financial Advisor at one of the wire houses. In this role, you start out competing against your incoming "class" of advisors. You will get about 2-3 years of paid salary + commission on the products you sell while you work on bringing in clients. During this time you'll be requred to obtain all of your licenses and failing any of the tests on the first try means your out the door the next day. You'll attend sales training and various workshops across the U.S. as they prep you for your career in advising and sales. The hard part of the process is building your business. You'll be expected to meet production goals (read: bring in assets to the firm, turn those assets into a profit) throught your first couple of years, and failing to meet the criteria means you're out. However, if you're able to build a solid client base and establish yourself as a capable advisor, this career can be VERY rewarding and attractive. This includes but is not limited to, flexible hours, great pay, ability to work with people and make a difference in their lives, great benefits and industry perks. Some of the older, well established advisors will make over $1mil/year and work less than 40 hrs/week, as an example. Having an MBA in this job is not really that important. It doesn't hurt, but this type of job is really more about who you know and what you can sell - while also being very good at managing people's money. This job is just as much about being a competent investment manager as it is being personable and likeable. People have to like you and trust you for them to give you their harned earned money and once you have it, you have to make sure you manage it well.
The specialized nature of this business falls into what you got a glmipse of from the person working at GS. There are plenty of players in the high net worth PWM arena as well. And at these very big institutions - PWM is more specialized because the assets you're managing are much larger. Here advisor/consultants manage extremely high net worth individuals/families, institution endowments/pensions/401k/etc, State's pensions, large business cash flow, etc. It's like going from playing pretty good minor league ball up to the big leagues. Here, the techniques used to manage these large portfolios are much more sophisticated and draw on the resources of a huge company like GS. There are many more MBA's running around in these places because it takes additional quant skill/knowledge base to understand what they're doing - and that's why they get recruited. I can't comment too much on what else it is they do exactly because I haven't worked in this area - but I do know the focus is much more on managing their assets to a very high level. Obviously, the pay for people who work in this area is very very good with a plethora of perks. There is much more availabilty for international exposure as well. A couple of my friends who work at Deut. Bank and BlackRock, who do this type of work, are compensated beyond what you might expect. It seems that they will never work less than 60 hr/wk, however.
My background is that I work for a trading desk in the global markets division of a major investment bank. And every now and then we interact with our PWM guys (as do trading desks at most of the banks you mentioned - GS, UBS, Merrills etc), when they have products to source for their clients etc.
My only thing is that to me a PWM person's job is akin to what a sales person does on the institutional side just on a smaller scale. Of course with the added responsibility of portfolio management which is pretty interesting and challenging.
Now the question I pose is - and this is a personal choice thing - would you rather work in PWM managing high net worth individuals, doing deals maybe $100,000 at a time with "retail customers" or would you rather work in a sales role dealing with institutions where you move tens of millions of risk at a time ? "Size opens eyes" as we say on the floor .... and that is a lot of fun
I don't know if you guys have read liar's poker ... but the description of these guys' ability to move tens of millions of bonds within an hour is very real ... thats how much volume you see on the non-retail side ... Certainly a career path also to be considered