The growth in global wealth is spurring hiring of wealth managers and private bankers.
According to the recently-released Global Wealth Report 2011 by the Boston Consulting Group, global wealth climbed to $121.8 trillion in 2010, up by 8% from 2008. Wealth grew the fastest in the Asia-Pacific region (excluding Japan) at 17.1%, followed by a 10.2% growth rate in North America. Growth was 8.6% in the Middle East and Africa and 8.2% in Latin America.
In the emerging markets of Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, institutions and private banks have been hiring hundreds of wealth managers to cater to the newly wealthy.
Wealth continues to accumulate in North America where $38.2 trillion in assets are under management, or almost one third of global wealth. "The U.S. is still a ripe market," said George Wilbanks, a wealth management specialist at Russell Reynolds, an international executive search firm.
One firm that has been growing is Pitcairn Family Office, a Philadelphia-based firm that acquired another family office and will continue to expand this year.
"Generational transition is causing a lot of new discussions now in the U.S.," said Leslie Voth, president and COO of Pitcairn. Voth has hired both seasoned advisors and the young graduates.
Pitcairn has hired five investment professionals in 2011 and expects to bring on another two by the end of the year. The numbers sound small, but Wilbanks said it's these type of private boutiques, which abound throughout the U.S., that are hiring as aggressively as larger institutions.
The Boston Consulting report also highlighted the growth of the ultra-high net worth segment, which it defines as households with more than $100 million in assets under management.
The U.S. had the greatest number of ultra-high net worth households, totaling 2,692. It was followed by Germany with 839 and Saudi Arabia with 826.
Looking after ultra-high net worth clients is a different ballgame. Wilbanks said his firm has seen a "significant surge" in search work for wealth managers to cater to this segment. It now comprises a quarter of the entire wealth management search work.
"Everyone understands the value of good advice," he said. "The problem is, customized good advice comes at a price tag of $30,000 to $50,000 a year. The only people who can afford to pay for it are ultra-high net worth clients. It's not millionaires anymore -- it's multiples of that."
Boutique firms and large banks will hire candidates who think more like investment bankers than brokers. Because wealth managers must devise totally customized programs, firms want talent who have a sophisticated understanding of wealth planning and advising.
"It's akin to what an investment banker does with a corporate client," Wilbanks said. "That level of service is more in demand, and we're seeing increased hiring in that segment."
Write to Julie Steinberg