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What Is a Private Wealth Manager?

Private wealth management refers to investment management and financial planning for individual investors, especially for high-net worth and ultra-high-net worth individuals. The private wealth sector has grown considerably as global wealth has increased and as individuals have taken on more of a responsibility for managing their own financial resources. Private wealth managers can help individual investors seek the benefits as well as navigate the complexities of financial markets. They advise private, high-net worth individuals and affluent families on how to invest their portfolios and plan their finances to meet their financial goals, and they typically offer a range of services, including portfolio management, estate and retirement planning, and tax services. Private wealth advisors offer this investment advice through high quality relationship management and client service.

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How to Become a Private Wealth Manager

For recent college graduates who go into private wealth, a common entry-level position is assistant relationship manager with a rank of analyst or associate. Progressing to the next level as a relationship manager or client advisor means being responsible for your own clients rather than assisting another manager. Some private wealth professionals eventually transition to working for a family office or starting their own firm. Experience and seniority may lead to a role as a director with responsibility for multiple relationship managers or advisors. Occasionally, investment professionals with experience in other areas of the investment industry, such as institutional investors, make a career switch into private wealth management.

Is a Private Wealth Career Right for Me?

Wealth managers need both technical skills and non-technical (“soft”) skills. Technical skills include capital markets proficiency, portfolio construction ability, financial planning knowledge, quantitative skills, technology skills, and in some situations, foreign language fluency. Soft skills include communication, education/coaching skills, and sales and business development. The rise of fintech, especially robo-advisors, has made technology increasingly important in the private wealth sector.

Read the personal story of one private wealth manager's success with CFA Program

  • Key Skills

    •  Financial planning
    • Communication
    • Emotional intelligence
    • Business development

Other Possible Career Tracks in Wealth Management and Advising

There is much variety in roles in wealth management and advising, but managing and leveraging client relationships to identify and deliver on business development opportunities are critical skills for all of them. Some focus on advising institutional clients and pension funds, some on retail/private clients, and others on corporations. A deep level of technical knowledge is often required, and in some instances, advisors may also be involved in aspects of both the analytical and investment decision-making processes. Other wealth management and advisory roles include:

How Can the CFA Program Help Me?

In a 2019 study of CFA charterholders, 13% of respondents noted working in the private wealth management industry. Many of the skills of portfolio management and financial planning – core competencies of the CFA Program – are transferrable to this field.

Explore whether CFA Program is the right choice for your next career steps

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