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The key business pressure this Top 40 advisor is watching now

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Mihir Patel, who works primarily with ultrahigh-net-worth clients, is keeping a close eye on fee compression in wealth management.

“My team prices business on the low end of the range given our clientele,” says Patel, who ranked No. 2 on this year’s Top 40 Advisors Under 40. Yet, Patel adds, given the rising costs of operations, he constantly monitors how best to price his services.

This is just one example of how Patel keeps abreast of changes in the industry and stays relevant to his clients.

The New York-based advisor has been with Morgan Stanley since 2011 and caters to sophisticated investors. He emphasizes that a keen focus on client service is critical.

“We are 100% referral only, so we solely rely on our current clients to make introductions to new relationships,” Patel says.

Read on to learn more about Patel’s business and what market trends he’s watching in 2020.

Click here to see who else topped this year’s ranking.

What type of clients do you serve — and how do you meet new ones?

My group works with a select group of ultrahigh-net-worth families and individuals. Many of our clients created their wealth as traders, hedge fund managers and private equity general partners. Other clients have had very successful corporate careers. They are smart, accomplished professionals who possess a sophisticated understanding of financial matters. As investors, they look to us for good ideas and flawless execution, frequently engaging us in detailed discussions around market dynamics and the sophisticated strategies that may be best suited to their objectives.

We are 100% referral only, so we solely rely on our current clients to make introductions to new relationships. I started in the industry during the internet bubble, and the popularity of bank sales & trading programs took a lot of my peers to the institutional side of the business. I focused on the private wealth side and decided to grow my career alongside the success of those same individuals who all came on as smaller clients with enormous growth potential.

Have you ever turned away a client for being a bad fit for your practice?

Yes, we really focus on the financially sophisticated professional. We want it to be a good fit on both sides of the relationship.

What was your biggest work accomplishment in 2019, and was there something that nearly kept you from achieving it?

My biggest work accomplishment in 2019 was growing my team’s revenue year-over-year by 60%, and growing my team’s asset base by over 40%. We did this by closing on two of our largest lead list opportunities that took over five years to close and fund.

What was your biggest personal accomplishment in 2019?

My wife and I struggled to start a family for several years, and finally this year with the new age of modern medicine, we finally are able to have our first child.

How do you keep abreast of changes in wealth management?

Two ways.

First, I have several friends that work at other brokerage houses, and I make an attempt to connect with them every quarter or so to see how the business is changing at their respective firms and we idea share to get the best ideas from across the Street.

Second, I try to meet with other successful brokers and see what they are doing to close business and also what their clients are looking for in terms of what new services are involved to attract new assets and clients.

These advisors oversaw $26 billion in combined client assets.
January 23

What trends are you watching in 2020?

As for markets, it is tough to not be cautiously optimistic following a record positive year in 2019 for global markets. But I would also note in our team’s mentality, we are also “cautiously cautious.” Not being invested and missing upside returns is also a risk to the business.

Trends in terms of investments, we are allocating roughly two-thirds of every equity risk dollar to defensive sectors (utilities and dividend aristocrats). The rest to themes such as cybersecurity and Chinese internet stocks. In terms of fixed income, we see plenty of opportunities in the bank-preferred market.

Trends in the wealth management business that we are most focused on is margin/fee compression. My team prices business on the low end of the range given our clientele, but being cognizant of increasing costs of running a business — we have to constantly be monitoring how to best price your practice.

What qualities do you admire in your team members?

Loyalty, hard work ethic, complimentary of each other, and client dedication.

What was the last good book you read?

“The Man Who Solved the Market” by Gregory Zuckerman.

What TV show are you currently streaming?

“Goliath” and “Jack Ryan.”

What goal, professional or personal, do you want to achieve in 2020?

Professional: Continue to grow the revenue and AUM by the same multiples as the previous three years, 30-40% on average. And also, add a focus on a new sector of business that is tied to corporate workplace solutions via Morgan Stanley’s purchase of Solium (now known as Shareworks by Morgan Stanley).

Personal: Spend more time travelling to some of the most remote destinations on the globe. We start with the Maldives in February!

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