Current Research: Defining the Next Generation Unified Managed Account

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20 January 2015
William Trout
Five years ago, the concept of a next generation UMA could have meant one thing: UMH. Since then, the ground has shifted, and today many wealth management firms, and certainly all TAMPs, claim to offer some sort of unified managed household account (or UMH) capability, even if how they define it may vary. Progress? Perhaps. Certainly, platform gains continue to drive effectiveness and strip away cost. But I’d say that the UMH as an idea has lost a lot of its luster. Increasingly, we are seeing the holy grail of investment management become a packaged marketing concept. UMH is to a degree a victim of its own hype. That is because UMH was (and is) always an ideal, a hypothetical construct. Among other things, UMH poses problems of definition: how does one define a “household,” and how does one account for the other types of relationships (for example, pricing relationships) that exist within the wealth management ecosystem? Tax location presents particular challenges to UMH. The point is that UMH may not always be right for the client, even when it is for the most part achievable. So where do we go from here? In my next post, I’ll look at how the wealth management industry arrived at this point, and the steps TAMPs and other solution architects can take to better meet the needs of both UMA sponsors and end-clients.

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