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Selecting the right wealth advisor is one of the most important decisions a wealth owner will make. A successful search requires a significant investment of time, talent and resources to ensure a thorough and disciplined due diligence process. For the past 20 years, Family Office Exchange (FOX) has worked with families of exceptional wealth and has facilitated their assessment and selection of wealth advisors. The FOX Directory of Leading Wealth Advisors offers wealth owners a head start in the due diligence process by providing profiles on more than 20 leading wealth advisors. 

Key Attributes
As families investigate options, they should keep in mind the following characteristics which FOX has found often lead to successful long-term client relationships:

1. Objective financial advice -  Most of these firms use a model of "open architecture." Look for firms with no conflicts of interest between their clients' goals and their business goals, where is a distinct separation in the process between financial advice and product selection, and where the firm has the ability to make sophisticated "make or buy" decisions.

2. Creative solutions to financial problems -  The firm should offer a broad array of sophisticated strategies/services, provide integration of financial goals and employ a team of skilled professionals with experience across disciplines.

3. Individualized planning approach - Look for firms who offer each household the ability to establish separate financial goals, while allowing for the "pooling" of key planning techniques for all members of the larger family group (family partnerships, multi-generation trusts, etc.,). These firms have a commitment to combining a long-term view toward client relationships with practical, targeted shorter-term objectives.

4. Delivery of complex services in a consistent manner - The firm should deliver high quality service and integrated reporting that allows for better decision-making in a timely manner.  The firm should meet with the client on a regular basis to discuss their financial affairs. Firms able to consistently match client needs with the skill sets in the organization excel at managing client expectations.

5. Relationship pricing across the larger family group - Most firms will offer pricing discounts to family groups with significant assets under advisement.  Each individual client is treated separately, but a "group discount" is available if the family stays together when they select an advisory firm. 

Distinctive Services
Both multi-family offices and integrated wealth advisors are intimately familiar with the demands of individuals and family groups. Their services and fees, as well as the background and expertise of their professionals are focused on advice, problem-solving and client advocacy. Their focus is on the client relationship, rather than the products sold. FOX differentiates between integrated wealth advisors and multifamily offices to help you gain a better understanding of the services likely to be provided by the firms listed.

Figure 1 defines the differences between investment, integrated wealth and Multi-Family office advisory firms.
The 2009-2010 FOX Directory of Leading Wealth Advisors is designed to be a resource to help wealth owners determine what to look for in a firm and to access important information that you can use to narrow your choices. The directory is not intended to replace personal communication and in-depth interviews. Additional due diligence, communication and education are essential in a successful search and selection of a multi-family office or integrated wealth advisor.