Myra Salzer is a modest person. While she has been an advisor since 1983 (her first career was as a chemical engineer), she hints that she’s surprised to have been named to the Investment Advisor Leaders’ Council, since she says that “in my opinion I have not arrived.” But upon further reflection and deeper into our IA Leader’s interview, Salzer’s unique insights and passion for her clients becomes apparent, and her leadership position becomes clear. If you’re looking to understand the unique challenges facing inheritors, you must speak to Myra Salzer. As with most good advisors, those insights into clients go beyond a dispassionate observance. There’s true empathy in her voice as she discusses how difficult it can be to inherit money at a young age and to be bereft of many of the comforting if challenging circumstances and structures that shape the personalities of most clients (and people). Imagine if you were smothered for all your life with the affection and painstaking care we reserve for newborns. Imagine how low the expectations would be of you. Now imagine that you are trying to take some control of the assets you’ve been given. To whom do you turn? Who can you trust? Who won’t take advantage of you? Try Myra Salzer.
On the state of your practice.
In my opinion I have not arrived. It’s kind of pathetic, the little I’ve accomplished for as long as I’ve doing this–since 1983. It’s disheartening that it doesn’t get any easier.
I don’t know if my practice is applicable to the general financial planning industry. I work only with inheritors, and my clients have inherited a lot of money at a young age. So we’re not looking at retirement plans, we’re looking at asset protection; we’re looking at not screwing up–it’s wealth conservancy. So a lot of the rules don’t apply. We don’t know anything about life insurance or mortgages. But darned if I don’t know about QPRTs and CRUTs. It’s a very little segment of the financial planning market–very, very small.
On how you’re compensated and how your practice differs from other firms.
In my case, [on estate planning] we have one attorney on staff, and most of our clients are out of state, so of course we’re working with an attorney in the state in which our client is domiciled, and usually they have a family attorney already in place.
Similarly, with investments, they usually have trust companies and their trustees or their family office doing that stuff, and we’re helping to design an investment policy and implement it, but we only have discretion over a fraction of the assets that we’re supervising.
For the most part, our fee structure doesn’t vary whether we have discretion or not. We charge a flat rate; our minimum is $5,000 a quarter.
We may be coaching clients on how to work with their family office; or acting as interpreter or coordinator between their accountants, brokers, and agents. Our clients inherit at age 18 or 21 or 25, and are thrust into a position of responsibility without any training to protect them.
On what you call that service you’re providing.
On the services you offer clients.
It’s guidance, friendship, a sanctuary–a safe place where they can talk about their challenges without any judgments. Many of our clients are in the closet about their wealth. They can’t even find therapists who don’t have an attitude about it.
On how you find clients and gain their trust.
It’s a long process. Just to find these clients is a long process. There’s no “Inheritors Club,” where they talk about their problems, there’s no “Inheritors’ Magazine,” and they all don’t play polo.