Creating A Wealth Management Team

Team members are competitive, but that shouldn't hurt their service.

The following is excerpted from the authors' most recent book, Wealth Management: The New Business Model for Financial Advisors.

In committing to wealth management, advisors are promising clients that they will be able to deliver a full slate of financial products and servicesæbrokerage, investment management and advanced planningæas well as an enhanced and across-the-board consultative capability. But what exactly does that capability entail? What's on the checklist of wealth management needs? And since they can't do it all, what criteria should wealth managers use to evaluate the specialists they need to support themselves and their clients?

Based on our research, here's a checklist of wealth management needs. Keep in mind the fact that it's not a static list. The desires of affluent clients, the skills of advisors, and the range of products and services are all evolving and have to be regularly reconsidered and accommodated. At the moment, however, the items in Exhibit 1 are the key components of a wealth management platform.

The Team Approach

As noted, the heart of the wealth management platform is the expert support structureæthe network of professionals that has to be in place to fully meet the needs of affluent clients by delivering the above skills, services and products. In the best case, this platform can be the foundation for providing superior service to clients, warding off the competition, growing a business and making money.

So who's on the team? There's a wide array of talent and knowledge out there to tap into. Accountants and attorneys are usually part of the network, as are insurance agents and sometimes actuaries. A comprehensive professional network might also include a trusts and estates lawyer, a banker, a money manager or two (or three) and third-party administrators. Increasingly management consultants, family business specialists and even psychologists are on board.

Whatever the constituency, a network that accurately reflects the interests and needs of a wealth manager's current or targeted clientele should pay dividends over time and reward each team member. Furthermore, as we've noted in previous articles, an advisory network is not just a boon to clients; it can also be a source of referrals from fellow advisors (although that's not a key criterion for selecting a specialistæthe primary motivation is his or her niche expertise).

Any such list of professional resources can be misleading, however. Complementary wealth management skills are not always where you might expect them to be. An accountant might be an expert in advanced planning, for example, and an insurance agent might be an authority on asset protection. In short, don't be taken in by titles; it's the skills that must be accumulated.

And knowing who's in the lineup doesn't mean the right team is easy to assemble. In fact, each advisor should be able to deliver on each of the following:

Specific expertise