Vanguard Group, the world’s second-largest asset manager, plans to open an office in Miami to cater to Latin American clients who want to move part, or all, of their wealth offshore.
The company will lease an office in 2024 while managing the rest of this year with a combination of shared space and remote work for the two people already leading the Miami operations, Juan Hernandez, Vanguard’s head of Latin America, said in an interview in Mexico City.
Historically, wealthy Latin Americans have held some assets in their country of origin and some abroad as part of a diversification strategy against political and economic volatility, Hernandez said. But the possibility to hold money offshore used to be restricted to the wealthiest individuals, who often held accounts in places like Switzerland, he said.
“In the past few years, we’ve seen the U.S. position itself really well,” Hernandez said. “There have been some regulatory changes that have made things easier fiscally for nonresident accounts, and technology has allowed intermediaries to offer accounts to individuals with smaller fortunes.”
Vanguard’s Miami business will cater solely to financial intermediaries such as brokers, family offices and advisers who work on behalf of individuals, Hernandez said. He estimates the office will start with about 30 clients, who each manage $10 million to $50 million.
Miami “is becoming the wealth management hub for Latin America,” he said, followed by Houston and New York. Hernandez expects the Miami office to grow to a team of 10 people in the short term.
Vanguard manages more than $7.6 trillion in assets globally, with Latin America making up about $50 billion of that, Hernandez said. Its business in the region is evenly split between institutional investors and intermediaries, he said.
“Mexico is our most important market, followed by a very strong institutional business in Chile, Colombia and Peru,” Hernandez said.
While many Mexican investors park their money in government bonds known as Cetes that pay around 11%, Vanguard’s focus on long-term investments for institutional clients means the firm has grown “quite a bit” this year, he said.
The company works with all of the major pension funds in Mexico, which are known as Afores.
“We’d love for the Mexican stock market to be larger and more dynamic,” Hernandez said. “We are an important player as buyers, and we’d love to participate even more.”