The Big Show

I have fantasies about taking my asset management practice out to Bucks County PA or somewhere like that and running it out of a big, bucolic farmhouse setting – retrofitted with Bloomberg terminals and WiFi.  Or sometimes I think about why it is that I don’t live and work in South Florida, playing golf and tennis year-round, looking out at the ocean from an office window during the week.

But then I realize where I am and what I’m trying to do.  New York is still The Big Show for investment advisers, I should probably stop taking for granted the proximity I have to smart people, important events, media opportunities, spur of the moment meetups with important contacts passing through town and so on.

For most advisers living and working in New York, however, there’s an even more elemental reason to be located here.  Investment News reminds us of what that is…

New York offers financial advisers the world’s richest — and most concentrated — market of wealthy prospects. Of the nearly 15.5 million people living in the New York metropolitan area — which includes Long Island, parts of New Jersey and other areas — 720,000 have investible assets of more than $1 million, according to the 2011 U.S. Metro Wealth survey, conducted by Capgemini Financial Services USA Inc. (Los Angeles ranks second, with 257,000 such residents.)

And more than 7,720 of those New York metro area millionaires have more than $30 million in assets, according to WealthX, a consulting firm that conducts research on ultrahigh-net-worth individuals.

Yes, it’s a feeding frenzy for financial advisers.  Especially those who are circling the rotting carcasses of the wirehouse whales.  Assets (and advisors) are bleeding away from Old School Wall Street, from the large firms that used to be the center of NYC’s financial universe.  Their names no longer mean anything to anyone here in NY, but the money hasn’t all left yet.  It takes a long time to undo a “white shoe” system that’s largely been in place since the Second World War.  The business is still up for grabs for the breakaway brokers who’ve hung out their own shingles – from Northern NJ, to Westchester, to Long Island to Midtown Manhattan.

But because there’s big money to be made, there is also a high cost of doing business and no shortage of competition.  It’s not easy living and working here, where the price per square foot dwarfs that of almost any major city in the country.

Where lunch costs anywhere from 12 to 25 bucks a day (especially when Barry spots the lobster truck parked on 46th).

Where the commute sucks no matter what your route and configuration of bus, train, car or subway.

Where everyone thinks they already know everything and all the people you meet have a brother-in-law or a college buddy who’s “in the business.”

Where talented employees and support staff need what would be considered an executive-level salary almost anywhere else just to meet their own cost of living.

But this is the challenge of playing to win at The Big Show.  It’s not easy, but if it were easy, then everyone would do it.

Besides, if I can make it here…


New York’s Riches Come at a Price (Investment News)



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