SOURCE: Dignitas

Life, optimized

September 22, 2009 09:00 ET

Dignitas Meets Increased Demand for Independent Advisors

A New Generation of Independent Wealth Management

CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwire - September 22, 2009) - More and more people looking to get their finances back on track are choosing independent financial advisors over brokerage houses.

As the economy recovers and markets return to growth, people will continue to put their money with independent money managers whose only affiliation is to the client's net worth, not to selling investment products.

Recent data from Cerulli Associates, a Boston research firm, showed that $100 billion in assets went from brokerage and bank advisors to independents from 2007 to 2008. Financial advisors working for banks, wire houses and insurance firms fell to 67.2% of those in the industry from 68.4% in the same period -- a trend expected to accelerate.

"The problem is that banks and brokerages are designed to sell products,'' said Nicholas Delgado, a Certified Financial Planner and founder of Dignitas, a multi family office that just began operation based in Chicago's Willis Tower, formerly Sears Tower. "They hope the client does well with those products, but they're not fiduciaries and selling product is their primary goal.''

Mr. Delgado left Merril Lynch to form Dignitas for that reason and others. In an era following 2008's 37% drop in equity markets, the failure and consumption of major brokerages houses, Ponzi schemes, indictments and an overall collapse in housing and job markets, people want a closer relationship with their money and greater accountability from their advisors.

Dignitas gives clients the comfort of being one of no more than 100 clients and having a personal relationship with a sophisticated network of advisors. More than that, independent firms take all assets into account. Using state-of-the-art software Dignitas will keep track of assets under its management, the market value of your home, 401k plan, bank accounts, even a Honus Wagner baseball card. A core group of trusted advisors all can access the information and contribute updates or adjustments as needed -- accountants, attorneys and business partners, for example.

"This really is a more comprehensive relationship than what most people have with a big brokerage house,'' Mr. Delgado said. "It's personal, it's detailed and it's long range.''

Dignitas takes its name from a Latin term that referred to an ancient Roman concept that assessed the sum of a person's non-material wealth, including personal reputation, moral standing, and ethical worth.

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