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Financial Planning > Trusts and Estates

Financial advocate for the family

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One of the biggest problems for advisors is overcoming client stereotypes. Clients tend to put advisors in a “box” based on their preconceived notion of the service provided and only share what they think appropriate. When they need investment advice, they go to a wire house. When they need a CPA, they seek out an accounting firm. When they need insurance, they find an insurance salesperson. A predictable result of this approach is disparate solutions to isolated problems.

Enter the financial advocate for the family – this is the person or firm that pulls it all together. The advisor collaborates with all other advisors, creates cohesion, paints and unveils the client’s entire financial picture.

The financial advocate for the family does not threaten existing relationships, but instead collaborates with those professionals in the common pursuit of serving the client’s needs. In other words, the financial advocate for the family becomes the de facto leader of the advisory team.

You will never win 100 percent wallet-share of all of your best clients. It won’t happen. They will always have multiple advisors. You can, however, stand out in the crowd by helping clients organize their finances and their financial relationships. This will enable you to provide the kind of advice clients truly need – unbiased and comprehensive, taking into account the entire financial landscape. This is exactly what your clients want. In fact, according to Spectrem’s 2005 Ultra High Net Worth study of individuals aged 51-65, 93 percent want an advisor that knows his or her overall financial situation.

Technology can be your not-so-silent partner in the quest to lead the advisory team. What you need to look for is web-based technology with collaboration features, robust account aggregation capabilities, concierge level service and secure documentation storage capacity.

  • Web-based technology enables you to give all trusted advisors access to view the overall plan, collaborate on it and assign tasks and reminders. Remember, others may view sections, but only you have the total picture.
  • Account aggregation capabilities allow you to continuously monitor the plan. By aggregating all of your client’s accounts, you will be able to advise your client on how current market conditions are affecting his or her overall plan, and combat the knee-jerk reactions to market fluctuations.
  • Concierge level services provide programs such as identity theft monitoring, specialized medical services and access to private banking services.
  • Secure documentation storage capacity allows you to store all of your client’s important documents (legal papers, wills, trusts, birth certificates, family photos, medical records, etc.).

With the right technology in place, and a collaborative approach, you will rapidly be the “Go-To Advisor” – the advisor that the client seeks out for nearly everything. For example, Raleigh Lang of Twin Financial Inc. in Kansas City, Mo. recently received an urgent call from her client’s son. Her client had been in a severe accident. The family wanted to know if Raleigh was aware of any medical instructions, or whether he had a power of attorney. Raleigh instructed the family on how to access all of the pertinent legal documents on a secured website, which they did right from the hospital.

The second part of the formula in becoming the financial advocate for the family is a natural offshoot of the first. If you have been the advisor who has organized mom and dad’s financial relationships and financial matters, who is the family going to call in the event of a crisis? As we saw in the above example, the family is going to call the person who has assembled the mosaic. By controlling access to information, as well as securely monitoring, reporting and retaining information, clients and their family know that with one phone call to you, they will be able to make informed decisions.

Edmond Walters is the founder and CEO of eMoney Advisor,, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Commerce Bancorp based in Conshohocken, Penn. He can be reached at [email protected].


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