The Wealth Management Process – Getting to Know You
Published On: October 6, 2023
Written by: Ben Atwater and Matt Malick
Most new clients come to us due to a major life event like a job change, imminent retirement, the death of a loved one, a divorce, the sale of a business or a property, etc. These events trigger a desire to plan your financial future.
The planning process is never ending and always changing. A plan is something we are always adapting and updating.
You need to start somewhere though, so here is a primer on our planning process. This first essay, part of a short series, is about getting to know our new clients. And, just as importantly, learning about big life events from existing clients.
To get to know new clients, we learn about important relationships, like family and trusted friends. We work to understand the clients’ profession or business, their family giving and philanthropic desires, and their estate planning structures. We also initially gauge clients’ risk tolerance, but this gets more refined as the process develops.
We seek to learn about client goals. This includes a desire to retire, work as long as possible, or something in between. We often find that planning an appropriate retirement date is at the top of a client’s wish list, while a minority of clients have no plans to stop working regardless of their age.
We seek to understand the lifestyle you want to live, and the costs associated with it, including travel; entertainment; hobbies; memberships; entrepreneurial pursuits; “second” homes; seasonal rentals; car purchases; home improvements; insurance premiums; and family financial commitments, like tuition payments, weddings. . .
People’s goals vary widely, even among similar-seeming folks. Some people can comfortably retire on a modest sum, whereas others’ lifestyles dictate many millions in savings to fund their activities and goals.
In addition to goals, we want to learn about client fears and concerns. For instance, on the money front, do you worry about income after retirement, investment volatility, overspending and / or leaving money to others?
Health is often a major fear for clients. For example, the sheer cost of healthcare, especially as it relates to health insurance premiums pre-Medicare and long-term care costs. Premature death is sometimes of major concern, whether it be a known medical issue or a poor family health history. And, of course, one of the biggest and most expensive fears is long-term care particularly around dementia / Alzheimer’s.
Clients also seek guidance on family care needs. Do your children or your parents need long-term financial support and how does that factor into your planning? It is not unusual today to see parents giving their adult children regular stipends or children stepping in to support long-term care for parents.
We look to build financial plans around your goals, and we pride ourselves on being honest and realistic with clients about the feasibility of those goals.
In our next note on our wealth management process, we will move on from goals and examine the money side, namely looking at your retirement assets and your retirement income sources.