Wealth management can mean different things for different people, and rightly so. After all, “wealth” itself is a rather subjective concept. Is wealth just money? When people really take the time to think about it, they realize wealth is also about having freedom, peace of mind in all of life’s phases, building on prior successes, and being able to pass on a legacy to others.
Forming a Plan with a Trusted Advisor
All good strategies start by sitting down with a trusted financial partner, and talking through where you are financially – and where you’d like to go. The most relevant financial professionals to conduct wealth planning on your behalf are Certified Financial Planners (CFPs). They are highly trained in managing investments, planning for retirement, tax minimization strategies, and estate planning functions. And they are legally bound as fiduciaries to act always and only in your best interests.
Having the right financial partner in your corner is critical not just at the outset, not just for setting a financial course – but for steering the ship along the way. Wealth management plans play out over decades, and need monitoring and adjusting when life inevitably brings new surprises and opportunities our way. Building upon prior success – and not falling prey to unnecessary risks or tax consequences – is a cornerstone of wealth management practice.
While having a CPA to prepare your annual taxes is great, wealth managers take a longer-term view of tax management. They are looking at your stated goals over the next 10, 20, 50 years, and how to best minimize the tax hits that come from business transitions and estate transfers to beneficiaries. They will also work with you to formulate charitable giving trusts to allow for the least taxable friction for whatever philanthropic goals a client may have.
Assets and Investments
Wealth management takes a top-level view of all your financial and business interests, and monitors how your investment goals (such as growth vs income) will change over time. The core of an investment portfolio will be spread across asset classes like stocks, bonds, and diversified funds. Alternative investments like real estate, private equity, and business interests – each with their own nuanced tax benefits and hurdles – are also monitored and advised upon by wealth management professionals.
Investing for wealth management success means knowing when to position for growth of one’s assets, when to shift into a more conservative, wealth preservation mode, and then on into a wealth transfer mode. Each of these phases has its own tax and legal issues to resolve, which is why so many seek access to these services under one umbrella – banking, tax planning, financial planning, investment management, and estate planning services.
The creation of wealth during prime earning years is just one component of wealth management. Holistic wealth management is about assessing your needs and goals many years into the future, and adjusting your asset allocations to be in line with your risk tolerance at each step of the journey.
Wealth management firms will often partner with established local banks to bring the expertise of an independent financial advisor to private banking relationships the customer already has. The financial advisory portion – which handles the various investment accounts you own – will work with the banking and business interests that together form your full financial picture. And a certified financial planner will be there to look at the full overview, with an eye on tax minimization, retirement and estate planning.
A major component of wealth management is creating the right accounts and legal structures to protect all of you and your family’s interests, no matter what may arise. Some wealth management firms have in-house attorneys to offer estate planning services, or you can have your own attorneys work with them to create living trusts, donor trusts, or whatever best suits your long-term goals.
Having the right kinds and right levels of insurance is also key to managing your estate, and part of any rock-solid wealth management strategy. It can sometimes be difficult to discuss certain topics with family members or anyone from the outside, but estate planning demands that attention be paid to issues like senior care, powers of attorney, and wills.
In Wealth Management, Patience Prevails
In a world that seems to be moving along at ever-increasing speed, wealth management success ultimately comes down to planning – and to patience. It starts with forming a thoughtful, methodical financial plan from the outset, and having wealth managers present you with all the options available to reach your goals. “Well begun is half done”, the saying goes, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more apt place for it than in a good wealth management strategy.
Utilizing the expertise of a wealth management team pays a lifetime of dividends all on its own; but the implementation of that plan typically involves a lot of patience. Wealth management is not the land of the flashy or the get-rich-quick scheme. It is the land of the precisely coordinated, methodically followed, constantly monitored – and patient – path to your long-term goals.