In today’s complex world of financial services, more than ever before, people are seeking integrated solutions in guiding them to overall wealth management solutions. For some, it begs the questions what components of total wealth management are there to consider and how does it apply to my situation? In this post I will point out the various components and some things to look out for.
Investment Management: Unfortunately many feel this is the only service a wealth manager offers. Since there is no regulation on the use of the term it is often co-opted by some to give consumers a broader view of their services. I like to describe wealth management as “financial planning on steroids”. Clearly Wealth Management firms do provide for ongoing management as part of their services. The difference is, that a true wealth manager will have the capability to fully integrate the investment management into the entire wealth management situation for a client.More below.
Planning Services: True Wealth Management firms offer planning in a number of areas including planning for retirement, college costs, budgeting, investment strategy, income tax, employee benefits including stock options, retirement plans and insurance programs and planning for special issues such as second homes etc..Financial Planning alone is snapshot at a particular point in time while true wealth management takes the analysis and carries it into the future via ongoing implementation, analysis and updates.
Risk Management/Insurance: Managing risk is not isolated into investments only in an integrated wealth management strategy. Ignoring important issues such as liability, property, life, disability and health insurance leave potentially huge gaps in a person’s financial security. Top wealth managers incorporate total risk management into their analyses. In many cases the implementation is done through existing agents or outsourced.
Banking: The wealth manager should be in a position to help you with important banking issues such as credit lines, mortgage financing and ideally have access to information on the types of accounts and the respective balances in order to be as helpful and proactive as possible.
Trusts: The carrying out of the transfer of wealth, especially in the case of multiple generations, will often involve the use of trusts of varying types (see previous post). Many prefer the people who have become the most familiar with their situation, their wealth managers, to be in a position to help them and their loved ones through difficult times and decisions. The capability to work with and/or have special relationships in the trust world will be very valuable.
Estate Planning: The proper planning and implementation of a solid estate plan can reduce transfer and tax cost dramatically and ensure your values and wishes are carried out as effectively as possible. Having an independent estate planning attorney to prepare documents is important and provides important checks and balances for a clients benefits.
Income Tax Planning: Clearly tax planning to make the most effective choices is a vital part of wealth management. It is not solely reducing taxes in the current year but looking over several years and putting into place the best overall strategy. It is not uncommon for the actual preparation of the returns to be outsourced (even the Big Four Accounting forms do that) but some do it in house as well.
In a future post I will post questions to use when interviewing wealth managers.