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Is there a difference between investment consulting and investment management? If so, can you explain it?

I'm just curious, because if there's a big difference between them I want to know which I should pursue. #finance #financial-services #investment-management #investing

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Kristi’s Answer

Investment management firms "manage" portfolios for their clients, and have the discretion to buy and sell securities as they determine most appropriate based on their philosophy and methodology. By taking discretion over the portfolio, investment managers are not required to receive approval from their clients in order to make trades in the portfolio. The methodology used by these investment managers (also referred to as "money managers") are reflective of their "style" of investing. By hiring a single investment manager, an investor's returns will be entirely dependent on how that manager is able to perform.


An investment consultant does not "manage" portfolios, nor does a consultant typically have discretion over the activity in client accounts. A true consultant develops very specific investment strategies according to a detailed assessment of each client's attitudes toward risk, income needs, time horizon, anticipated cash flows, tax considerations (if a taxable account), and other factors based on client-specific situations. The strategy is customized according to client objectives, rather than the consultant's philosophy or style.


After an investment consultant develops an appropriate strategy for a client, it would then search for the investment management firms to manage each portion of the strategy. Typically, a consultant's search may result in 5-10 different investment managers for a client's portfolio…each one specializing in the specific asset classes (i.e. stocks, bonds, real estate, commodities, cash) that comprise the client's strategy. An investment consultant would conduct manager searches using sophisticated screening and performance measurement analysis to find the most appropriate managers for the client. In addition to quantitative performance measurement analysis, consultants would also review qualitative factors such as an assessment of the manager's organization, personnel, assets under management, regulatory history, etc.

Thank you comment icon Thank you.Good question. kanika
Thank you comment icon Kristi's answer is a very good one. I would add that managers can work for individuals or various organizations. This is the same for consultants. They may work with individuals or organizations such as non-profits find an investment manager. Chuck Jones
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Genti’s Answer

These are usually interchangeable, but if you want to give advice (ad get paid) on investments you need to register as an investment adviser. If you don't give advice, then no registration is needed and you can do 'investment management or consulting'. No real difference between the two.

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