The Elements

By TailorMade   |   November 1, 2016

Huddle Up: How Advisors Should Work as a Team for Clients

Categories: Clients, Operational Effectiveness

Are you and your clients ready and truly prepared for change?

A new President, the DOL requirements and numerous external issues all make for an interesting game plan when it comes to wealth management as we move forward into 2017 and beyond.

In the next few weeks and months, there will be no shortage of clients posing the question: “how does this affect me?”

However, the real question in our corner of the universe should be… are they asking you or someone else?

Adjusting to Change with Overlapping Services

Today, more than ever, “Wealth Management” goes well beyond asset allocation, investment decisions and portfolio construction. When change occurs within one facet of a plan, it can have a significant impact to the big picture if no adjustments are made. More so in the High Net Worth world.

Grunge Football Diagram

By definition, Wealth Management involves overlapping professionals and services that all need to be coordinated and monitored. This is why Family Offices work so well. A change in tax law can have a rippling effect on a clients’ family wealth when planning is done in a vacuum.

There are no shortages of examples where isolated planning elements spell disaster when one silo goes down and a significant event occurs for the client or family. Again, will it be you or someone else who gets the proverbial question as we move forward into 2017?

The Benefits of a Comprehensive Plan

As financial professionals, we don’t practice law nor give tax advice, yet, having a sharp pencil and a set of eyes does have its benefits for our clients. Focusing on tax efficient planning strategies and making sure the documents say and do what your clients actually want represent two hallmarks of a comprehensive plan. Sometimes, having a discussion about the effect of a single word can make a huge difference when it comes to putting your client’s plan in motion. (i.e. This may happen vs. this shall happen.)

Candidly, reading and reviewing a will and/or trust is not a back office job. . . after all, they are your clients and knowing what the documents say and will do is integral to the long-term client relationship. The investment or financial part of a plan only works when the tax, legal and emotional aspects are all on the same page.

In working with elite financial professionals, we have the luxury of seeing first-hand how the right investment decisions, planning meetings and adjustments play out over time. Having those group meetings with all your clients’ advisors asking additional questions and mapping out how they all relate not only provides a better plan from day one, it provides a systematic process for dealing with change.

In times of change, 8 critical “non-investment” questions to ask
  1. When it the last time you reviewed your personal legal documents? (Do you have copies?)
  2. When is the last time someone checked to see if the plan will work? (Some assets do not split well either economically or emotionally.)
  3. How are your other assets titled/owned?
  4. Is the plan dependent on discounting?
  5. Is your business succession plan voluntary or involuntary?
  6. What’s next for the business?
  7. Who’s next, when and how? (Ownership, management and leadership are different items)
  8. When was the last time your insurance was reviewed? (Given the recent carrier news and changes to certain products, adjusting to change now versus 10 years from now can make a very large difference.)

Instead of waiting for the question… “how will this affect me?”, taking the first step in asking your own questions will yield great dividends for both your clients and your client relationships.

Moreover, when is the last time you coordinated a meeting with your client’s:
  • Corporate attorney
  • Personal attorney
  • CPA
  • Other investment advisor
  • Insurance agent?

You need to work as a team to discuss their personal or professional financial objectives.

Providing solutions to complex challenges can only be accomplished when all of a clients’ advisors are all working together sharing one common goal.

Change is only hard for those who are not prepared.

Strategic Partner

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