Brokers and the Affluent

Physician's Money Digest, July31 2004, Volume 11, Issue 14

Wall Street has figured out that the best way to make money is to go afterpeople who have a lot of it. Wall Street brokerage houses figure to beef up saggingprofit margins by targeting the mega-wealthy, so if your net worth is inthe $5-million-plus range, you're in some broker's crosshairs. What they hope to dois charge you for advisory services, like helping you with estate planning anddonations to charity, in addition to pocketing the traditional commissions onsecurities trades. The competition for wealthy clients is stiff and the market isshrinking as fewer of the super-rich turn to brokers for advice—just 30% last yearcompared with 37% in 2001. Among the contestants are UBS Group, MerrillLynch, and Smith Barney, all of which have opened special investment centerscatering to wealthy clients.