Wealth Management

(San Francisco)

The wealth management market is already in shock from Democrats’ tax proposal—think top tax rates of over 65% for high tax states. Remember that a large majority of states charge taxes on residents, including big ones like New York and California, where large numbers of America’s wealthy reside. Now, California, the largest and one of the most influential states in the union, has just put out a proposal for taxing wealth, not income. The plan comes from the state’s legislator. Here are the basics of the plan: “The state would apply a 0.4% rate to all net worth above $30 million for single or joint filers. The tax would apply on wealth above $15 million per spouse for married taxpayers who file separately. Net worth would include all assets and liabilities held globally by a taxpayer”, according to Barron’s.


FINSUM: Two eye-opening things here. Firstly, Democrats have a veto-proof supermajority in the state legislature, so passing this will be much easier than elsewhere. Secondly, how much will this influence other states? It was easy to see how left-leaning states influenced others as it regarded state-level fiduciary rules.

(New York)

The wealth management industry has a long-standing issue that has recently been re-highlighted by some new research studies. That issue is that financial advisors—who are overwhelmingly male—tend to have unconscious biases which lead to miscommunication, poor judgments, and bad experiences for female clients. According to Merrill Lynch, one of the big changes in household investing is the increasing involvement of women. For instance, women under 45 are twice as likely as average to be the financial decision maker in their home, and 4.5x more likely than women over 55 to consider themselves knowledgeable about investing. In meetings with heterosexual couples, advisors are still focusing most of their attention on men, which is frustrating to women. Male advisors also often mistakenly assume the couple’s finances are integrated and they are investing from the same account.


FINSUM: It is no surprise that the issues exist in wealth management, as they seem to be present in all industries. Our sector seems pre-disposed to the issue given the overwhelming majority of older male advisors.

(Washington)

Advisors need to start thinking about what the post-election tax landscape might look like for clients, especially high earners. The proposed Biden/Democratic tax package is even more stringent than many think, as when you diver deeper it becomes clear that the increases are quite extensive. One core element that is less understood is Biden’s Social Security Payroll tax of 12.4%, which applies to all income with no cap (all income between $137,000 and $400,000 would be taxed at the same level). Combining that with a raised federal tax rate of 39.6%, and state taxes means that some residents of high tax states could see punitive-levels. For example, in California, which has a 13.3% top tax rate, the total tax burden for high earners would be over 65%! Even in states without state taxes, income taxes could be 52%. Furthermore, Biden intends to eliminate capital gains tax rates for those who earn more than $1m, effectively doubling the capital gains tax rate.


FINSUM: There is good news and bad news here. The bad news is obvious. The good news is that because of the state of the economy and the need for fiscal stimulus, Democrats are unlikely to pass these measure until we re-reach full employment, which could be years.

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