While the outlook for the global wealth industry continued to improve in 2010, wealth managers need to refine their pricing models to best prepare for future growth, according to a new study from Boston Consulting Group.

The management consulting firm released its annual report on the global wealth industry on Tuesday, which included a survey of 120 international wealth managers. It included private banks or wealth management units of large banking groups in North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Latin America.

The report found that the global wealth industry grew to $121.8 trillion, or by 8%, in 2010. That growth marked a $20 trillion increase from two years ago. The outlook continues to look upbeat for the next several years, the report said, with global wealth expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 5.9%.

Overall, the results showed a “great year for wealth, and a really good year for wealth managers,” said Monish Kumar, a senior partner and global leader of asset and wealth management at Boston Consulting Group, said in a press briefing at the firm’s New York offices on Tuesday.

The results for wealth managers, while showing signs of optimism, were mixed, according to the report.

Net new assets for wealth managers has not yet reached pre-crisis levels, with just 2.3% growth in 2010 versus 1.5% in 2009. Wealth managers’ assets under management rose by 7.5% in 2010 compared to 12.8% in 2009.

But the recovery showed more traction as wealth managers’ revenue grew by 8.5% in 2010 versus a decline of 7.1% in 2009.

“The performance of wealth managers has improved substantially, especially relative to 2008 and 2009,” Kumar said. “It hasn’t reached the peak levels of wealth management performance in terms of pre-tax profit and net new assets that we have seen historically over the 11 years that we have been doing the report, but it still is a very strong performance.”

As the industry works toward a full recovery, wealth managers can best position themselves for future growth by making their pricing models more clear, Boston Consulting Group said.

Current pricing models lack structure, which allows wealth managers to charge higher fees to some clients and offset lower fees they charge to others. But an arbitrary approach might not work in the future, the report said, due to changing client demands with more transparency from online and social media features and certain investment vehicles like exchange-traded funds.

In order to implement a better pricing system, the report recommended that wealth managers consider new approaches. That includes providing clear-cut advanced services for higher paying clients, while limiting the services to lower-paying clients.

Wealth managers should include the clients as much as possible in pricing decisions to match the same level of disclosure in other areas of the industry. The pricing could include customizing the pricing model for the client depending on the products they invest in and drawing from a variety of contingent, flat, minimum and performance fees.

While wealth managers should be able to provide discounts to clients at their discretion, the report said, the range of those discounts should be tied to the respective client’s tier. Discounts can still be given on a client-by-client basis, but should consider demographic information and not deviate from a set price floor.


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