"It's all about understanding, information and control"
Nov. 27, 2012
The Wealth Mosaic is a newly founded consultancy, based in the UK and Austria, that aspires to help wealthy individuals finding the best wealth management relationship. We have talked to the founder and CEO Stephen Wall who claims that he can cut through "confusion, frustration and uncertainty" with a host of new research tools.
MyPrivateBanking: Tell us a little more about your new project "The Wealth Mosaic"
Stephen Wall: The Wealth Mosaic is a consultancy dedicated to working with wealthy individuals, and their advisers, to bring independent and unbiased support to finding the best wealth management relationships for each client. We are not a wealth manager or IFA or other investment focused service but a knowledge, information and research platform working for wealthy individuals to find their best match in wealth management.
After seven years of experience working on business insight and strategy consulting projects in the global wealth management space, I saw a sector that was hugely fragmented, diverse, often confusing, always changing and where the information and sources to keep track of that were both hard to access and scattered in different places. While institutions could get around that one way or another that could not be said for the majority of clients, the lifeblood of the sector, and a group where the sense of confusion, frustration and uncertainty at this sector is felt most.
The Wealth Mosaic is the result. An independent service provider, dedicated to helping wealthy individuals, either directly or through their advisors, cut through the confusion and ambiguity, filter down from the hundreds of providers to those most relevant, and then engage and get the answers to their questions and access to a bespoke level of information and understanding upon which they can make a secure selection. Ultimately it is about putting wealthy individuals in control.
MyPrivateBanking: Why do you think that wealthy individuals need another advisory service given the thousands of private bankers and wealth advisors who are already clamoring for their budget?
Stephen Wall: In the question lies the answer. There are hundreds upon hundreds of businesses - and thousands in a market like Switzerland - seeking to serve the assets of wealthy individuals in one way or another and no-one available to truly help the client get to the best ones for them. Different business models, different products and services, different people, different cultures, different focus, and so on. How does a wealthy individual know which is best for them? For any wealthy individual or their advisor to really understand the market and then also keep on top of it is simply impossible without being dedicated.
Indeed, from the perspective of an independent knowledge-based filter, dedicated to understanding and keeping up with that market, and focused on the client’s needs first, there has been nothing available. Certainly nothing that looks at the wider service, business and cultural influences on creating the right relationship and then available to the core wealthy market, meaning those with less than USD50 million in net worth, for whom going via a provider such as a family office or investment consultant is maybe not a cost-effective option.
MyPrivateBanking: Why do people spend weeks to choose a new car but don't think a lot about their private banker?
Stephen Wall: It all comes down to the individual but it could be summed up as any one of fear, confusion, lack of understanding, lack of time, lack of interest, what separates out one provider from another, and so on.
In my experience, those potential sentiments lead to three outcomes: not doing anything, jumping into bed with the first provider that comes along and not properly checking that this is the best one or even a good one for them, and taking months and months to make a decision - with or without a process of understanding.
I was actually buying a new car myself this year and, while all three of the above outcomes came into play, I ended buying a new model after months of confusion as to which one to buy. I likened that whole process to what I am trying to do for wealthy individuals and their advisors with The Wealth Mosaic. My lack of knowledge of the car market, what would be best for me, what engine size I needed, what impact that would have on running costs and insurance, where could I get the best deal, who did I trust, what would the resale value be, and so on, all contributed to my sense of frustration, confusion and, ultimately, the decision taking forever. I likened that to what many wealthy individuals go through when the decision of which wealth manager to choose but, frankly, this particular new car was nothing like as expensive as the standard wealth management relationship and was also a one-off cost, not an annual fee.
MyPrivateBanking: What do you recommend to find the best wealth manager around?
Stephen Wall: It is all about understanding, information and control. If you think about how a wealthy individual would traditionally find their wealth manager, there are three channels: via their other advisors, whether an accountant, lawyer, trustee or other, what I call the professional route; via a recommendation from a friend, family member or colleague, what might be called the dinner table route; and, finally, via direct engagement with an existing provider or familiar brand, the direct route.
Each of these can work but, from my research background and other research sources available, it is clear that there are as many wealthy individuals that are as dissatisfied with these channels as those that are satisfied. Each method also, depending on the experience, nature and needs of the wealthy individual, puts them immediately on the back foot.
The Wealth Mosaic says straight away that the wealthy individual is in control. Why is that? There are several factors which include: the size and competitiveness of the market which dictates that the client is important and valuable; working not on a few preferred relationships but opening up the wider competitive market; focusing first on the needs of the wealthy individual and using that as the means to engage and direct the process; maintaining the anonymity of the client until the point that they are secure in what they know, and, also being paid for by the client so we are not influenced by and never receive any fee from a wealth manager.
MyPrivateBanking: What qualifies you as a person to advise wealthy individuals on how to choose their bankers?
Stephen Wall: At its heart, this service is all about knowledge, information and research. It is not advice and it is not selection. The Wealth Mosaic gives wealthy individuals the knowledge, the information and a research mechanism to get deeper into the wealth management market than they have had before and to filter down through the hundreds of providers to those that are best suited.
My background doing this work, essentially business intelligence, on the institutional side for many of the world’s leading wealth managers, their service providers and some of the leading financial centres qualifies me for this role. Ultimately, The Wealth Mosaic is there as a tool that clients and their advisers can employ to make a more secure selection based on a process of real bespoke due diligence.
The founder of The Wealth Mosaic, Stephen Wall, is professional business intelligence analyst who has been working exclusively in the global private wealth management sector since 2005, the majority of that time spent as a director in London for one of the few dedicated private wealth management research and business strategy firms in the world. Realising that it is in fact private clients and their advisors that need the greatest insight into the world of wealth management, he founded The Wealth Mosaic.