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Financial Planning > Tax Planning

Wealth Manager: Clients Still Need Advice

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The economic downturn may present opportunities for financial advisors as well as challenges, according to a financial services veteran.

Many financial advisors must rebuild the trust of clients burned by losses, but clients also are hungry for honest advice and new ideas, says Mark Halverson, executive director of global wealth management services at Accenture Inc., Chicago.

Seeing financial giants such as Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., New York, collapse has shaken many investors, Halverson says.

For advisors, “it turns out that having a big brand name on your office door doesn’t necessarily help,” Halverson says. “In some cases, advisors are spending a lot of time defending what they have to offer, to rebuild some of that trust.”

But recessions also can be a time for relationship-building, Halverson says.

“For the last few weeks, we’ve heard that there aren’t as many self-directed investors as there used to be,” Halverson says. “As a practical matter, the need for advice is going to go up and not down.”

How should financial professionals respond to that need?

“To a great degree you sell trusted advice, so you need to be the primary financial relationship,” Halverson says. “Try to build your share of wallet, to become the primary financial relationship for the investor, someone who can put an advice wrapper around the client’s financial life that would go across a lot of different veins–insurance, investments, cash management–so you’re having more relationship density with the client.”

Advisors need to talk to customers about the many insurance and financial companies that have continued to be stable, and to discuss annuities and other products that offer guarantees, Halversen says.

For unsure investors, the tax advantages of life insurance may look attractive, Halversen says.


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