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Should you build a Career in Mass Market, Affluent, HNW or UHNW?

For many aspiring and existing wealth professionals, career decisions tend to be focused on career trends, salary and benefits. One often neglected consideration is which client segment would you prefer to work with?

The four main client segment:

  • Mass Market
  • Affluent
  • HNW – High Net-worth
  • UHNW – Ultra High Net-worth

These four segment of clients have varied financial needs and the soft skills and knowledge required to deal with the group of clients are different.

Most Wealth Managers start from Mass Market while a small percentage start with High Net-worth clients

Most wealth managers career decisions tend to be based on the following:

  • Moving into Priority Banking
  • Moving into Private Banking
  • Moving into Management Roles
  • Moving into Institutional roles
  • Moving into Asset Management / Fund Management
  • Becoming a Product specialist
  • Be a Relationship Manager / Wealth Manager / Client Advisor / Financial Advisor
  • Moving into Banking or Non-banking Wealth Management Roles
  • Getting away from Sales / Client facing roles

While probably the more important deciding factor is which client segment would you want to work with: mass market, affluent, HNW or UHNW?


No. 1 Deciding Client Segment to Work with

Young Asian Couple
Young Asian Couple

With all the focus on products and solutions, wealth managers often neglect personal interests & aspirations such as who do you enjoy the most working with in your daily life. Even if you do know, you would get bored and may want a different challenge.

Dealing with mass market client means being ready to talk to anyone, anytime.  Whereas working with affluent clients could be talking to professionals, managers, executives or retirees. The AUM (Asset under Management) in Singapore for an affluent client is usually more than $200,000 while in Asia, the AUM is $50,000 and above.

The AUM (Asset under Management) in Singapore for an affluent client is usually more than $200,000 while in Asia, the AUM is $50,000 and above.

Working with High Net-worth clients would mean dealing with people who could be more savvy and knowledgable in many areas, including financial matters.  But they would have less time to deal with their finances such as C-Level Executives (CEO, CFO, COO), Senior Management, Businessmen, Entrepreneurs, Top Professionals.  See below for Client Demographics:

Wealth Management Client Demographics:

Segment Profile Singapore Asian
Mass Market Anyone  Any Amount  Any Amount
Affluent Professionals, Managers, Executives, Retirees  >$200,000  $50,000
High Net-worth C-Level Executives, Senior Management, Businessmen, Entrepreneurs, Investors, Inheritance, Retirees  > $1 Million  > $1 Million
Ultra High Net-worth MNCs C-Level Executives, Senior Management, Businessmen, Entrepreneurs, Investors, Inheritance  > $30 Million  > $30 Million


No. 2 Dealing with CEOs, CFOs, COOs type of clients

Private Banking
Private Banking

Not everyone can cope with the pressure of demanding high impact CEOs.  But there’s always someone that enjoy the challenge of doing so, and some people just make it look so easy.

Some learn the hard way by getting the nasty shot from the client, grind his or her teeth, and gradually become competent over time.

These group of clients are usually from the High Net-worth or Ultra High Net-worth segment.  Would this be the segment of clients you would want to build your career with?


No. 3 The Mr McDonald’s

Client Acquisition
Client Acquisition

Some people just love putting a smile on everyone’s face, interacting with people, sharing the ups and downs with anybody. And that would not be possible providing only to Ultra High Net-worth clients, especially since it meant you would only be facing a few clients for a good part of your career.

In the mass market or maybe affluent market, you would have the opportunity to work with hundreds to thousands of clients.


No. 4 Choosing the Client Segment

Wealth Management Management Trainees
Wealth Management Management Trainees

For most wealth managers, there is no practical assessment of which client segment would fit you better.  Most progress incidentally or when opportunities arise.

In fact, you never know until you try.  Though you would likely already have your personal preference such as:

  • Prefer to interact with anyone
  • Prefer casual chats
  • Prefer high impact conversation
  • Prefer local culture
  • Prefer expatriate culture
  • Prefer luxury lifestyle
  • Prefer casual meetings
  • Prefer professional meetings


No. 5 Using Consumer Companies as References

Lexus IS 300h
Lexus IS 300h

The table below provide references into how working with different group of clients could appeal to you.

Consumer References:

Segment Mobile Flight Car Fashion
Mass Market Xiaomi Economy Toyota Giordano
Affluent iPhone Business Mercedes H&M
HNW ? First Class Bentley Calvin Klein
UHNW Vertu Private Jet Rolls Royce Hermes


The above table illustrate brands and their positioning.  Similarly in wealth management, clients in the respective segment would have financial needs alongside products customised for them.

For example in UHNW segment, clients would more likely need international asset planning services than mass market segment.  They are more likely to own assets (real estate, companies, investments, boats, private jets) in different countries, and may need credit lines, company set-up, trust, legal and tax advisory.

In mass market segment, clients are more likely to have budgeting and cashflow needs.  Solutions such as consumer credit cards, personal loans, housing loans, insurance coverage, disciplined savings and investment plans would be more integral to their needs than a HNW or UHNW client.


No. 6 Should you build a Career in Mass Market, Affluent, HNW or UHNW?

Personal Bankers
Personal Bankers

For most wealth managers, they start from working with mass market clients, developing the relevant skill sets, knowledge and aptitude to provide wealth management solutions.  A small percentage starts from the High net-worth or Ultra High net-worth segment.

So by choice, the options are limited in the initial stage.  But as wealth managers develop and enhance their skill sets, their career options widen.

In Review

Now that you have a brief idea on the different client segment in Wealth Management, which would you choose to start your career in, and where would you like to end up in?

  • Mass Market
  • Affluent
  • High Net-worth
  • Ultra High Net-worth

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