Posted on: January 1st, 2021
Wealthy individuals and families by and large like to work with highly skilled advisors—from wealth managers to accountants, lawyers and beyond.
And why wouldn’t they? If you have the financial ability to access advisors who are known for their technical capabilities in areas like tax mitigation, estate planning, investment management and so on, why wouldn’t you pick those advisors over others who aren’t as knowledgeable about those issues?
But here’s something that might surprise you. We’ve learned, from decades of working with both the affluent and top financial advisors, that those advisors who may be the best technically are not necessarily the best advisors for you.
Why? Often, these advisors are missing a key ingredient that can empower them to better serve investors with sizable wealth.
Let’s be clear: It makes good sense to find and work with professionals who are technically skilled—ideally, technically brilliant.
But we think you should be looking for more, too. In particular, we believe any wealth managers you work with should be exceptionally good at bringing what we call the human element into all they do on behalf of their clients.
The human element as we define it is the personal and emotional components of wealth management. It includes understanding everyone and everything that is important to you, as well as everyone and everything that could be affected by your financial decisions, and using that understanding as the basis for making a broad range of decisions about your wealth.
The following case study helps illustrate why it’s important to work with a wealth manager who is extremely adept when it comes to the human element.
A wealthy entrepreneur wanted his business succession plan stress tested to see whether it would deliver the results he wanted under various scenarios. A cohesive team of specialists were assembled to do the review and assessment. They concluded that, because of changes in the family dynamics since the time the estate plan was first signed, the most likely outcome after the business owner’s death would be an all-out war among his four children. If it got bad enough, the conflict could be the death knell of the 200-plus-year-old family business.
When it came to inheritances, the patriarch had decided on being even instead of fair. That meant each child was set to receive an equal share of the estate (including the company) even though only one of the four was involved in the company—as its president. The patriarch described two of the children as “do nothing” and “worthless.”
Thinking through the situation with an intense focus on the human element resulted in a new estate plan along with well-structured and rigorous succession and asset protection plans. It’s important to note that the existing wealth planning had done extremely well. However, the family’s circumstances changed. Now, the child involved in the family business will inherit the company. The other children will get comparable amounts of wealth but in different forms.
This case study reveals how important it can be to stress test some aspect (or all aspects) of a wealth plan from time to time, especially with an eye toward interpersonal, human-element concerns.
Stress testing is a systematic way to evaluate whether your plan is positioned to generate the results you expect it to. It can also be a good way to determine whether there are any meaningful opportunities out there that your current wealth plan isn’t taking advantage of.
Sometimes stress testing identifies technical mistakes that were made in the creation or implementation of a strategy. For example, some successful entrepreneurs will put different assets in separate entities. However, they might fail to insulate those entities from something adverse occurring in their personal lives. Another example is life insurance, which is often based on assumptions and projections. Sometimes, a stress test will show a technical failure—the life insurance will not perform as expected.
But stress testing also can reveal areas where strategies are correct, technically, but have become outdated because of changes in a person’s situation and needs.
That said, it’s more common in our experience that stress testing reveals everything to be on track, technically and from a human element perspective. Finding no problems at all can potentially be good and comforting news—especially if there was uncertainty going into the stress test.
There are two approaches that potentially can help you make a determination whether a technically proficient wealth manager is likely to deliver results that satisfy you.
If the focus is on you, it’s a sign that the wealth manager is also focused on outcomes—getting the results that you seek for your particular family, business and so on. These wealth managers also tend to be adept at explaining how their actions (or proposed actions) are aimed at delivering the specific results you seek.
It’s a good idea to find and work with technically adept financial professionals who are well versed in the many strategies and solutions available to you. Expertise is valuable and can potentially add value to your financial life.
That said, you can still end up being disappointed with your results if all you do is seek out such experts and stop there. We believe a much better idea is to work with technically skilled professionals who also focus much of their time and attention on how potential solutions may (or may not) help the needs of specific clients.
This requires the human element—a willingness and ability to get to know you on a deep level. Wealth managers who combine the human element with great technical skill are likely to be better positioned to generate outcomes that their clients most want.
This report was prepared by, and is reprinted with permission from, VFO Inner Circle. AES Nation, LLC is the creator and publisher of VFO Inner Circle reports.
Disclosure: The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra IS or Kestra AS. The material is for informational purposes only. It represents an assessment of the market environment at a specific point in time and is not intended to be a forecast of future events, or a guarantee of future results. It is not guaranteed by Kestra IS or Kestra AS for accuracy, does not purport to be complete and is not intended to be used as a primary basis for investment decisions. It should also not be construed as advice meeting the particular investment needs of any investor. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS.
Fusion Wealth Management is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. https://www.kestrafinancial.com/disclosures
VFO Inner Circle Special Report
By Russ Alan Prince and John J. Bowen Jr.
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