“When your heart is right, you want to bring out the best in others.”
As wealth managers, the work we do goes far beyond investing. Helping our clients achieve the best financial outcomes often requires the collaboration of a team of advisors, including accountants, lawyers, insurance agents, and others. The results of such successful partnerships can be profound:
Optimal solutions are more likely to emerge when professionals work together.
Focused communication tends to move projects along more quickly.
Project fees may be lower when our preparation work with clients leads to fewer discussions and meetings.
Unfortunately, genuine collaboration between advisors can be challenging. While accountants, estate attorneys, and financial advisors regularly communicate with each other about specific facts or numbers needed to complete a legal document or file a tax return, it is not the norm for them to proactively work together to design customized solutions with real advantages for clients.
What are the obstacles?
Financial professionals may view each other as competitors and fear losing clients.
Hourly fee models may discourage clients from making the most of the expertise of attorneys and accountants.
Some lawyers and accountants may not realize the breadth of a wealth manager’s capabilities. They may think that wealth managers only handle investments.
Other financial professionals may believe that investment advisors are only out to sell products in a self-interested way. They may not recognize that our fee-only practice never generates commissions or any other kind of transaction-based compensation.
When a wealth manager is willing to defer to other professionals on specific strategies, and those professionals are of the same mindset, the sum can be greater than the parts.
Wealth managers are often in the best position to facilitate the analysis, discussion, and decision-making of an advisory team. This is largely due to the way wealth managers typically interact with clients: with both routine and spontaneous conversations, and in both big picture and problem-solving modes. This allows us the time to understand and communicate overarching strategies, and to spot issues where other disciplines overlap.
In one instance, that broader lens might help us detect a significant investment disadvantage in a tax strategy—a disadvantage that is not a CPA’s job to anticipate. In another example, we might discover that a well-drafted estate document, designed by an attorney to save estate taxes, leaves a surviving spouse short of needed funds. And so on.
Over the years, TGS advisors have had the privilege of participating in really important work for many clients using the trusted team approach. Here are some examples we’re proud to relate:
For three generations of a client family with a large federally-taxable estate, we collaborated with accountants to create a multi-generational, integrated strategy to maximize after-tax portfolio growth while minimizing any increase in the taxable estate.
We partnered with an attorney and an insurance agent on behalf of married clients who joined our firm with too much insurance coverage at a huge annual premium. We were able to get the face amount of their life insurance policy reduced, and the annual premium cut by 80%.
For a client with impaired cognitive issues, we introduced a geriatric care consultant, who coordinated round-the-clock, in-home care, greatly enhancing that client’s quality of life, and reducing stress on his children.
We held meetings with the family and attorney of a terminally-ill client with a large holding in company stock held at a loss. We facilitated the transfer of those shares, followed by a sale in order to realize the capital loss, instead of losing tax advantages due to a stepped-down basis on death.
In a multi-year process involving several families and a surviving parent suffering with Alzheimer’s disease, we coordinated each step in the transition of a complex estate, helping to navigate the emotional cross-currents of high-achieving siblings and complex family dynamics.
We encourage all our clients to give us permission to exchange information with their other advisors. We’re always on the lookout for opportunities to deliver better results through more active collaboration.
If you think there’s an issue we should be exploring with your other trusted advisors, please let us know. We look forward to helping you bring your team together.
Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by TGS Financial Advisors), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this article will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this article serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from TGS Financial Advisors. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing. TGS Financial Advisors is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of this article’s content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of the TGS Financial Advisors’ current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request.