Private Client Division
At a Glance
The Private Client Division (PCD) has 1,073 financial advisors in 92 branch offices throughout the United States. Oppenheimer financial advisors deliver investment advice and comprehensive wealth management strategies to a wide variety of investors including families and high net-worth individuals, foundations and endowments, charities, pension plans, corporate executives and businesses, both large and small. Comprehensive solutions are developed and delivered by deploying the resources of Oppenheimer Asset Management, the Oppenheimer Trust Company of Delaware, the Insurance and Annuities Division, Corporate & Executive Services, the Retirement Planning Group, Oppenheimer’s Research and Strategy Resources, the Capital Markets Group, as well as the traditional services of execution and custody.
The overall environment for the wealth management industry and Oppenheimer’s Private Client Division was strong during 2018. Corporate earnings, nearly full employment, the effects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and a more accommodating regulatory environment resulted in strong equity markets during most of the year, before declining in the latter portion of the year. As our baby boomer clients approach the point in their lives where they rely on their accumulated savings, our years of service become ever more important. Despite trends in the industry where technology and automated solutions become available, informed clients continue to prefer the advice and counsel of experienced financial advisors as they make decisions on retirement, intergenerational wealth transfer and deploying their assets for a secure future.
At the same time, millennials want to make sure that they can access the information and services they value at all times anytime, anywhere. Oppenheimer has adapted its platform to service all investors recognizing changes in regulation and technology, investor expectations of how financial advice is accessed and delivered, and the increasing attraction of passive management of assets as a means to lower costs, while targeting market returns. Despite these developments, high-net-worth individuals, families, and businesses consistently value the access to intellectual capital and strategies provided by their trusted Oppenheimer financial advisor.
The paramount focus of the Private Client Division during the year was enabling, empowering, and executing growth. The Private Client Division represents 64.5 percent of the firm’s revenue and continued to improve its pre-tax margin to 24.1 percent. During the year, higher management fees and bank deposit sweep income, as well as attracting new advisors, and retention of existing staff allowed us to realize meaningful growth. This was aided by attracting new clients and generating new investments from existing clients.
PCD focused its efforts on recruitment with a two-pronged approach: recruiting advisors with proven successful practices and assisting senior advisors approaching retirement to form partnerships with younger associates thus permitting them to “sunset” into ongoing participation in their practice as they retire. Our recruitment campaign, Let’s Talk FutureTM, signaled to the market an effective strategy for attracting experienced financial professionals to the firm.
We continued our multi-year focus on improving the advisor and client experience by the introduction of wealth management solutions, improved technology, and enhanced digital delivery. Our advisor-facing technology, Advisor Works, improved with field testing and a measured rollout with a system-wide launch planned and on schedule in 2019. Our improved client portal, Client Access, was modernized with a streamlined and visual interface so clients can instantly access, analyze, and understand their portfolios. The firm’s website, oppenheimer.com, also was modernized and relaunched during the fourth quarter and now is optimized for desktop, tablet, and mobile formats.
During the year, higher management fees and bank deposit sweep income, as well as attracting new advisors, and retention of existing staff allowed us to realize meaningful growth.
Areas of Focus
The Private Client Division continues to help Oppenheimer’s financial advisors deliver valued advice and to help our clients plan, invest, and transfer their wealth. This is achieved through practice management, marketing support, compliance, and new technology solutions. The practice management team provides a wide range of capabilities including onsite coaching, peer-to-peer and classroom training, and a structure for achieving business model optimization. Specialty programs are focused on developing financial advisors in various stages of evolution.
Among our varied programs with proven results are:
- Associate Financial Advisor Program for new financial advisors, a two-year curriculum with direct reporting and teaming with a senior advisor with a requirement of earning a CFA, CFP or CIMA designation
- Senior Associate Advisor Program for those looking to partner for business succession
- Second Generation Program for financial advisors intending to pass on their successful practices to younger family members
PCD is adopting digital and technology approaches to help financial advisors continuously learn, manage and market to their clients, while growing their practices and remaining compliant with regulatory changes. Increased longevity has significant economic benefits, as aging populations drive continued growth and innovation to meet their evolving needs. Throughout 2018, educational forums were conducted for financial advisors and their clients on such topics as aging, generational wealth transfer, changing Social Security, and prudent financial planning.
PCD received industry recognition during 2018:
- Three financial advisors were named by Forbes/R.J. Shook as Best-in-State Wealth Advisors
- Eight financial advisors were named by Forbes/R.J. Shook as Top Next Generational Wealth Advisors
- Three branch managers received OnWallStreet’s Top Branch Manager Award
- Two financial advisors were on OnWallStreet’s Top 25 list of Regional Advisors Under 40
- One financial advisor was recognized in the Financial Times as a 401(k) Top Retirement Plan Advisor
The way forward for the Private Client Division includes attracting new financial advisors to the firm, and continuing to provide an entrepreneurial culture for new and existing financial advisors. To empower financial advisors to expand their practices and provide outstanding service to their clients, PCD will continue to develop advanced tools, and experiential training programs. The Private Client Division strategy assures that Oppenheimer financial advisors are equipped to meet the challenges ahead including evolving regulation, demographic shifts, and investor needs.