Liquidity vs. Performance: What Do Wealthy Families Really Want?

March 21, 2023
| By
Masttro Team
Image of a grand hallway in an expensive home with sun shining in through the windows and unique couches and light fixtures lining the wall.

Let's begin with one of the biggest mistakes that many wealth managers make when they start working with wealthy families: Assuming they have been hired to maximize investment performance. Most investors typically select money managers to get the highest return that is consistent with their risk tolerance. That’s true of affluent individuals and institutional pension funds.

Key Takeaways

Liquidity vs. Performance: What Do Wealthy Families Really Want?

Building Up What Already Exists

“The very rich,” as F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “are different from you and me.” To which Ernest Hemingway retorted in a short story, “Yes, they have more money.”

Hemingway was right. The top concern of these families, which have already created their wealth, is preserving what they have amassed and using it for personal and charitable goals. And often, they view the enterprise or activity that was the source of their fortune—to the extent they’re still involved in it—as the primary vehicle for increasing their wealth.

Simplifying Liquid Assets

Above all, what the very wealthy want from their money managers is visibility and control. That’s a bigger challenge than it may sound. These families often have their assets spread over a range of trusts, partnerships, and other vehicles in multiple countries. They want their managers to simplify this complexity to show them what they own and what it’s worth.

Perhaps most importantly, they want to manage their liquidity. They don’t want to be in a situation where they are about to make a major gift or a large investment only to discover that all their assets are tied up in limited partnerships that they can’t exit for months.

To serve these clients well, wealth managers need to bolster two capabilities: empathy and technology.

By empathy, I mean a clear-eyed understanding of the client’s entire situation, not just their investment objectives. Only with such a view of the client’s family, business, philanthropy, and personal goals can an advisor ensure that their money is in the right place at the right time.

Wealth in Full View

With technology as well, advisors must be capable of capturing and reporting on all of the family’s assets, not just the portion that they invest. Their systems should be able to track any asset in any currency, whether it is a listed security, a private partnership, a real estate property, or a work of art. Without that complete, 100% view of a client’s wealth, there’s simply no way to provide the insight and advice that they need.

Of course, nobody wants to hire a money manager with consistently poor performance. Investment skill, especially in risk management, is table stakes.  

But when the very wealthy hire an advisor, they want someone who can help them navigate the many challenges that come with their estates. To win that business, advisors need to demonstrate they can see the big picture and how all financial, personal, legal, family, and philanthropic factors interact with each other. This requires insight, skills, and technology beyond what’s needed to manage money for the average client.

Wealthy families have a different outlook on wealth, and their advisors not only need to understand how it’s different, but need to deliver differently: with a focus on visibility and control first and foremost.

And, should you decide your company could uplevel your wealth tech stack, the Masttro team is ready to assist. Contact us today.

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Kieran Quinn
Zach Grau
Brett Rogers

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