Dubai: Wealth management firms and advisers must provide a broader and more integrated set of capabilities to meet the complex needs of high net worth individuals (HNWIs), according to the latest World Wealth Report, released last week by Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management and Capgemini.

In today's environment as HNWI clients expect their relationships with firms and advisers to create broader, more sustained value than in the pre-crisis years when they were more heavily focused on chasing returns.

Now the demand is for advisers to help HNW clients to manage the complex mix of goals, primarily wealth preservation.

"While an air of normalcy is returning to global financial markets, HNWIs have been deeply impacted by the effects of the crisis," said Tamer Rashad, Head of Middle East, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management.

The World Wealth Report observed that the world's HNWIs expanded in population and wealth in 2010, surpassing 2007 pre-crisis levels in nearly every region.

Global HNWI population and wealth growth reached more stable levels in 2010, with the population of HNWIs increasing 8.3 per cent to 10.9 million and HNWI financial wealth growing 9.7 per cent to reach $42.7 trillion (compared with 17.1 per cent and 18.9 per cent respectively in 2009).

Integrated response

"Many HNW clients have clearly rethought their investment and life goals, and are now heavily weighing the amount of risk they are willing to assume in order to reach those goals. Wealth management firms will need to bring the full force of their capabilities to bear to deliver an integrated response to HNWIs' complex post-crisis needs," Rashad said.

With the recovery of fin-ancial markets and asset valuations across the world HNWI's trust in wealth managers have improves substantially last year.

Calculated risk

This endorsement stands in stark contrast to 2008, when nearly half of HNW clients had lost trust in their advisers and firms.

The crisis has had a lasting effect, however on investor psyche, reflected in the still relatively cautious asset allocations of HNWIs.

"Although HNWIs took on more calculated risk in search of better returns, at the end of 2010 HNWIs globally still held a significant amount of their assets in more conservative instruments such as fixed-income and cash and equivalents," said Karthikeyan Rajendran, Sales Director, Middle East, Global Financial Services, Capgemini.

"Amid this mixture of trust and misgivings among HNW investors, firms and advisers must continually demonstrate their value and relevance to help HNWIs meet their changing and complex needs."

After seeing significant market fluctuations last year, 42 per cent of HNWIs said capital preservation was "extremely important" and a large number (46 per cent) said it was important.