Wealth Management Firms
We live in the age of the one-stop-shop. Big box retail is all about finding everything in one location. Even e-commerce has gone that way, with companies like Amazon basing their business models on their wide product ranges. While one-stop-shop works great in shopping, wealth management is quite different. Before we proceed any deeper, we wish to alert those of you with $5 million to $500 million in investable liquid assets that you may qualify for the free 70+ page book about the 7 Secrets to Financial Serenity and robust wealth management, and you can request it here.
Table of Contents
Wealth management is a highly personalized activity. It requires a careful evaluation of the client’s goals, needs, and other aspects. Based on those inputs, customized advice is offered. A one-size-fits-all approach does not work very well with high net worth portfolios. At Pillar Wealth Management, we believe that our high and ultra-high net worth clients, with liquid assets between $5 million and $500 million, deserve a selective and exclusive fiduciary service.
Wealth management decisions are extremely important and should be done in the best way possible. Some of these decisions may be difficult while others may be routine. However, these decisions will profoundly impact your legacy, your future lifestyle, your family members, and even your future generations. Therefore, working with an elite-level wealth management firm is something that you should consider.
If you want to meet an elite-level wealth management firm, then there are some things that you need to know beforehand. You need to know how to choose wealth management firms, how to check their track record, and be able to compare what they are selling. In this article, we will touch upon all of these topics. In the end, we will also share tips on finding the best wealth management firm.
How to choose wealth management firms?
In order to answer the question of how to choose wealth management firms, you first need to know the reason why you are looking to engage the services of a wealth management firm. If it’s simply portfolio management, then you can look for firms that concentrate only on the rate of return. However, as explained in this complimentary book on improving portfolio performance for high net worth investors, there are considerations other than the rate of return which ultimately determine the net money that you receive in your hands after deducting various costs.
If you need a more holistic solution that covers topics like tax efficiency, investment cost optimization, matching of personal goals to investment decisions, etc. then you need to look for firms that have a broader focus.
Then, there is also the question of whether a wealth management firm has a minimum threshold of portfolio size that they work with. At Pillar Wealth Management, we bring more than 60 years of combined experience to deliver what we call financial serenity to clients who have investible liquid assets between $5 million and $500 million. The portfolio size details are something that you must clarify right at the beginning. Otherwise, you will spend time researching a firm only to find out later on that the firm may not take up your account.
Next, you should also explore the fee structure of a wealth management firm. Usually, firms follow either a fee-only model or a fee-based model. A fee-only model involves no product commissions. The wealth manager earns a fee which is a fixed percentage of the total invested assets. So, for example, if a client invests $10 million through a wealth manager, the manager may charge a 1% fee or $100,000 (1% of $10 million).
The fee-based model involves fees and commissions. The fees could be hourly or milestone-based. In addition to that component, the wealth manager may also receive a commission for selecting certain investment/financial products. This commission may not be directly charged to the client. It may be paid out by the company offering the product. However, the point is that an incentive is created to opt for certain products over other alternate ones. A purely commission-based model is also a possibility. In this case, no fee is charged and all the earnings of the wealth manager come from commissions.
In our opinion, a fee-only model ensures that there is no conflict of interest and the product recommendations are unbiased. They reflect the actual needs of the client. Whereas with commissions, there is always the possibility that the wealth manager may get tempted to recommend an unnecessary product simply for the sake of earning a cut.
There are other factors as well like whether the wealth management firm is a fiduciary, how many clients it takes up every year, what their experience level is, and how they measure success. Get in touch with Pillar Wealth Management to find out how success is measured not only by how much the wealth grows, but also by how much the firm saves its clients in dollar terms.
How to check their track record?
The reputation and success of a wealth management firm depends on multiple factors. The size and brand name, while important, is not the sole metric for success in this industry. Therefore, you should not be under the impression that a big-name Wall Street firm is the best simply because it manages billions of dollars.
The track record of a wealth management firm is established by how well they serve their clients. Serving clients is not just achieving a rate of return or understanding the risk profile of the client. Check out this complimentary guide on selecting the best wealth management advisors to find out the 7 warning signs that can affect the track record of a wealth management advisor. Serving clients well is about helping them successfully achieve their life goals. It is about clients achieving financial serenity and having peace of mind no matter what the market is doing.
The track record of a wealth management firm depends on its depth of expertise, its level of attention towards its clients, its independent nature, and the qualifications of its wealth managers. Big-name firms are focused on volume over depth. You can start a conversation with Hutch or Chris at Pillar Wealth Management, a quality-focused wealth management firm that took up only 17 clients last year.
Now that we know how successful wealth management firms build their track record, the next question is how to check their track record? One way is to look for positive reviews on the Better Business Bureau website. You can also search for past awards and recognitions. A clean record in terms of ethical and professional behavior, absent of any legal proceedings or issues, are also indications of a strong track record. Lastly, speaking to people you know and asking them about a specific firm can also give you insights.
Compare what they are offering
There are plenty of wealth management firms offering a variety of services to high net worth and ultra-high net worth clients. Some common services include:
– Retirement planning for the short-term and long-term
– Portfolio management services
– Tax planning and tax optimization (including gift tax)
– General financial planning
– Succession and inheritance
– Risk management and insurance
– Lifestyle planning and debt management
– Legal assistance
– Business planning, sale of businesses and other interests
– Real estate investments
During your research on wealth management firms, you can compare what they are selling by visiting their website. If you like, make a list of all the services that are a priority for you. That way, you can then identify firms that have expertise in your preferred areas.
It is important to check what kind of clients a wealth management firm serves. The client profile will significantly alter how a service offering in the same area is delivered. For example, the real estate advisory can be very different for a $500,000 property vs a $50 million property. As an ultra-high net worth individual, you do not need just another real estate advisor. You need someone who has advised moguls and celebrities on multi-million dollar deals.
Similarly, a tax accountant who serves as an expert witness in high profile cases has a totally different level of expertise than a regular tax accountant. You want a tax expert that can even turn down the court because he/she is busy serving important clients like you. Another example is an estate planning attorney who has experienced plenty of scenarios unfolding in multiple high net worth estate administration meetings. As a high net worth individual, you need services that are elite-level. Know more about Pillar Wealth Management’s white glove wealth management services by scheduling your free consultation.
You can also pay careful attention to the style of wealth management. One example is in the area of investment management. Some wealth management firms follow an active approach and buy and sell individual stocks regularly. Some others follow a passive approach which is more cost-efficient. An active manager tries to beat the index but incurs costs like transaction costs and capital gains taxes. A passive manager tracks an index but saves on some of the costs. Ultimately, what matters is the net returns after deducting all the costs and taxes.
If you want to know more in detail the services that wealth management firms offer, then we encourage you to download our guide: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Financial Advisor: For Investors With $5 Million to $500 Million in Liquid Assets today.
Tips on finding the best wealth management firm
Finding the best wealth management firm requires some homework and research from your end. It is not very difficult to find one after you have some insights into the topics that we have discussed above. Once you know what services a wealth management firm offers and what their track record is, you can begin to shortlist the most compatible-looking firms for your needs.
In order to begin exploring wealth management firms, you can simply run a search online for wealth management firms in your area or firms that specialize in topics that are a priority for you. You can then explore the individual websites of each of these firms/wealth managers to gain more insight into their offerings. If the wealth manager is successful and well-established, then he/she may write articles and blogs in mainstream media. Read this content in order to get an idea of their wealth management philosophy.
This preliminary research should give you a large enough pool from which you can shortlist a few promising options. For more tips on finding the best wealth management firm, make sure you check out the Ultimate guide to choosing the best wealth management firm for investors with $10 million or more in investible assets.
After shortlisting a handful of firms, speak with each one of them individually. When you talk face to face, either in person or on a video call, you can better judge what kind of personality the wealth manager has.
Your wealth is a very personal topic and therefore you need to establish a level of trust to be able to trust a wealth manager with your finances. The meeting with the wealth manager gives you the opportunity to explore whether you can build a relationship with that person. Hutch and Chris at Pillar Wealth Management specialize in high net worth portfolios ranging from $5 million to $500 million. You can start a conversation with them to explore if Pillar Wealth Management is the right fit for you.
One of the best ways of finding a great wealth manager is to leverage your personal network. Discuss the topic of wealth management firms with your relatives and cousins. Chances are, they may have engaged the services of a reputed firm. Ask them about their experience and whether they are satisfied with the services offered.
You can also speak to your business partners and work colleagues. They may also have a high net worth portfolio and would know wealth management firms that cater to such clients. The best part about using your personal network is the unbiased nature of first-hand reviews that you will get about wealth managers. Such reviews carry far more weight than what an anonymous person writes online.
Hutch Ashoo and Christopher Snyder are the expert founders of independent, fee-only, and fiduciary wealth management firm Pillar Wealth Management. If you would like to speak with them or simply ask any questions about how custom and trusted wealth management advice is offered to high net worth individuals with $5 million to $500 million in investible assets, then feel free to start a conversation.
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