If someone were to ask you to list your most important relationships, chances are your financial advisors would not make the short list. Perhaps they should, though, as their knowledge and philosophy around wealth management will likely impact you and your family for years and even decades to come. As with anyone in your life, cultivating a bond based on trust and mutual respect takes time. However, there are some things you should look for when seeking a new wealth manager or deciding to continue with the one you have.
- Do they encourage their principals to take an active role in managing their own wealth? Will they take your suggestions seriously and support your decisions, or do they expect you to defer to their expertise? When there are compelling reasons for you to listen to them, how willing will they be to sit down and explain those reasons so that you fully understand? Essentially, these are all questions of philosophy: are they interested in empowering you, or do they view this as a threat?
- What is their focus? This really comes down to the level of involvement you want to have with regard to your wealth. Some firms are devoted entirely to wealth management, while for others it may be secondary to other services such as banking/lending. Some have a long list of clients they speak to on a quarterly basis, while others work with a small select number and know everything about them and their families. If you want to be on your advisor’s speed dial, this is an important thing to know before engaging them. Of course, you also want to ask about their track record of success and retaining clients for the long term.
- Do they know (and care) where you’re coming from? As with any partnership, you want your financial advisor to understand you as a person, not just a balance sheet. For example, do they know what drives your investment decisions? The growing trend for many is to invest according to their core values and a desire to do good in the world. If this is your priority, do your financial advisor consider it when bringing investment options to the table? Or, do they appreciate your concern regarding “shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations” and are they committed to helping your family avoid this problem?
- Do they fully utilize technology? There is no doubt that fintech has revolutionized the world of wealth management, whether it is using artificial intelligence to allow them to better understand and predict their clients’ investment decisions or developing digital platforms that allow people to manage assets and invest on their own. It doesn’t matter if you are addicted to cutting edge tech or are still baffled by your smartphone, you want to choose a firm that is using every tool at its disposal to serve you.
- And finally, what about your future? Answering this question may require you to dust off the old crystal ball or, more likely, your intentions and goals moving forward. Wealth management needs shift over time; for example, you may want to create a trust for a newly born grandchild. If the firm you’re considering does not handle those potential needs this may be a sign to keep looking.
Where ever you are in life professionally or financially, it is never too early to engage a wealth manager, start getting advice and look to secure your financial future.