Family Office

State Profile: Wealth Managers Hitting Gold In California

Harriet Davies and Max Skjönsberg, 25 May 2012

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In 1848, James Marshall found gold in California, creating a rush of wealth-seekers to the state. Fast forward nearly 200 years and wealth managers are heading west in search of industry gold: ultra-wealthy clients.

Editor's Note: Hot on the heels of the now-controversial Facebook IPO, this is the first part in a two-part series on the wealth management market in California.

In 1848, James Marshall found gold in California, creating a rush of wealth-seekers to the state. Fast forward nearly 200 years and wealth managers are heading west in search of industry gold: ultra-wealthy clients.

Home grown banks such as First Republic, which offers a combination of private business and personal banking and has strategically set up offices around growth markets, are growing quickly, launching new offices and adding personnel. Just this month the private banking and investment division of Merrill Lynch launched an office in Palo Alto to serve the technology and venture capital communities in this area of northern California.

As the home of Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and an internationally-renowned wine producing region (not to mention the climate that goes with it), it is perhaps no surprise the Golden State is a hotspot for the high net worth.

California, which is by far the most populous state in the US, had the most ultra wealthy residents in 2010, with about 9,800 residents worth more than $30 million, according to Wealth-X. By comparison New York had about 7,300 UHNW individuals.

However it’s not all rosy. The state is regularly lambasted by CEOs in ChiefExecutive.net, which runs an annual survey of the best states to do business in according to hundreds of business leaders - in which California has come last for eight consecutive years (Texas is currently top).

Despite this, the business climate in California is friendlier than many might think, according to CONCERT Wealth Management, which told this publication that nearly 60,000 more businesses are starting up or moving to the state than are leaving.

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