BOSTON (Reuters) - The surge in the number of millionaires in the world is spawning a fast-growing industry — wealth psychology.
U.S. wealth managers are adding services such as psychological counseling for wealthy clients to set them apart from the competition, experts said.
Some of these psychologists handle clients who feel guilty about inheriting wealth. Others help with problems such as how to raise children in an environment where almost anything can be bought, or intervene when spouses fight over money.
“One of the biggest concerns when people become significantly wealthy is ... ‘How am I going to raise my kids responsibly with all this money’,” psychologist and consultant James Grubman told the Reuters Wealth Management Summit in Boston.
Grubman, who works with rich clients of Wachovia Corp, the fifth-biggest U.S. wealth management company, predicted that within 10 years most financial management firms will offer psychological services.
“The more cutting-edge wealth management firms and banks are beginning to realize they need to get people available and in house,” said Grubman.
The wealth management division of Wells Fargo recently hired two psychologists to meet with its clients, and is seeing demand for another new service for the wealthy — catering to the aging parents of millionaires.
“A growing need for a lot of business executives, entrepreneurs and other people of wealth is somebody to handle some of their parents’ needs,” Dean Junkans, chief investment officer of Wells Fargo’s wealth management division, told the Reuters Summit.
Junkans said the U.S. bank’s Elder Services group offers asset management, housing, medical care, “family communication and dynamics”, and banking services to the elderly.
“It’s growing very fast, and it tends not to be price sensitive,” said Junkans, who oversees $250 billion (125 billion pounds) in client assets, referring to the Elder Services group.
The United States is the world’s biggest wealth market but many players find it hard to achieve and sustain profitability in part because they cannot differentiate themselves, according to a recent study by Boston Consulting Group.