Private wealth advisors are financial specialists who work with wealthy clients in the areas of personal financial planning, investment portfolio management, and other money management services. The position can be held by a person with a business or professional degree, or by someone with specialized training in wealth management. There are a number of trade associations that offer certifications to people employed in this field, but the certifications are not needed to hold the position.
Very wealthy individuals require customized and sophisticated planning to maximize returns on their investments, mitigate tax obligations, and plan for the eventual distribution of their wealth upon death. Private wealth advisors handle a range of services, much in the same way that a manager would arrange all of the business affairs of a famous actor. This type of advisor typically coordinates all of the people working on the client's estate, including the retail banking, investment management, tax professionals, legal team, and estate planning.
Investment banks typically make private wealth advisors available under their private client services. This makes sense because the wealthiest clients generate a lot of business. Many of these firms put their advisors through specialized training in wealth management in addition to their existing educational and professional credentials. Private investment groups and wealth management firms also offer these same services. The choice of who to hire is a subjective decision, but the selection is often made by referral and upon reputation.
Private wealth advisors try to attract clients so they can manage the totality of their financial affairs. The arrangement is very lucrative for the advisor, who gets paid a substantial sum for providing such customized services. Financial management is the activity at issue, but the position is really concerned with managing a close, long-term relationship.
Although just about anybody can claim to be a private wealth advisor, there has been a movement to establish standards and provide certifications so advisors can be distinguishable by their credentials. The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards in the US issues a Certified Financial Planner (CFE) credential. In Canada, CSI Global Education Inc. issues the Chartered Strategic Wealth Professional (CSWP) designation. These types of credentials, along with an affiliation with a reputable company and a track record of success handling the affairs of the wealthy, helps set the most qualified private wealth advisors apart from rest in a field where most of the work is kept confidential.