Wealth Management and Enhancement
By: Mark Wendell
Wealth managers are an eclectic group of financial professionals – those with impressive degrees and certifications and those without; employees of household-name firms and proprietors of small boutiques; firms with formal business plans and mission statements and others that invent their business as they go along. For a client searching for experienced, steady guidance, it’s often difficult to know what to expect of an advisor. And, unfortunately, not everyone calling him or herself a wealth manager actually delivers on the claims of credentials, capability, and personal attention the title implies.
Regardless of how they describe themselves, a wealth-management advisor should be capable of:
- Delivering a personalized, trustworthy, in-depth approach to preserving and enhancing your assets
- Integrating a broad and complex combination of strategies, products and services
- Offering an ongoing collaborative process involving you, an advisor, and a network of skilled third-party professionals
The more the wealth manager knows about their client’s needs — the greater the depth of understanding in the advisor/client relationship, the more clearly, they communicate when solving problems and meeting objectives — the greater the likelihood that the wealth manager will deliver results beyond the minimal requirements of their role, resulting, naturally, in a more beneficial outcome for the client. The asset management advisor who appreciates how each client is unique and puts effort into serving those unique needs isn’t likely to rely on one-size-fits-all services or to recommend cookie-cutter product packages. Generic cookie-cutter products and services certainly have their place in the market, but they don’t deserve to be called wealth management.
A good wealth manager must have thorough Wall Street knowledge, wisdom, experience, a passionate desire for learning, credentials beyond merely impressive letters next to a name, and the ability to keep in view the broad perspective required to manage sizable, diverse assets — a list of qualifications not easy to find in one individual. This implies that an effective wealth manager must have available a strong, trusted network of specialized associates and outside resources to provide depth and expertise where his or her own skills might be insufficient, and not just ‘friendships’ down the street meant to give the impression of actual “teamwork.”
Often, the Achilles heel in wealth creation and enhancement is that clients don’t precisely know what assets they have and don’t have the time, interest, or knowledge to figure it all out to make them grow. They may have at best an incomplete mental inventory of assets and a list of neglected issues, and therefore urgently require not just guidance for improving their financial picture but a clear picture in the first place. A common problem is that households tend to practice management-by-crisis, procrastination, and if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it status quo. Individuals who have worked in their chosen fields building wealth by their own labor often do not think of calling upon a professional wealth manager to assist them with wealth enhancement.
Wealth management issues can frequently involve multi-generational and other uncommon considerations an imperceptive wealth manager may not take into account. Comprehensive wealth management advisors may wish to consider other factors: lifestyle assistance (health management, physical security, philanthropic planning, family education, luxury acquisition) and coordination of administrative chores (bookkeeping, tax filing, data aggregation and reporting). For select clients, a broad-view approach may work better, for the sake of efficiency, convenience, centralized view, economies of scale, and synergy — and to prevent costly mistakes. When a client has responsibility for an entire family’s legacy, it behooves him or her to insist on a comprehensive, customized, and rock-solid wealth-management platform.
Whether a household’s assets are simple or complex, usually it is not practical, prudent, or efficient for an individual to attempt to marshal all the family’s financial affairs on his or her own. It’s also unwise to assume that because a professional has an impressive title, that successful outcomes are assured. Because asset management, estate planning, tax planning, risk management, and wealth protection are so intricately intertwined, integrated oversight is the central concern of any bona fide wealth manager and is absolutely essential to achieving an optimum outcome of wealth enhancement.