Plancorp’s team approach to financial planning suits the potential volume, complexity and diversity of robo-advisor accounts. All of Plancorp’s wealth management professionals are certified financial planners. CPAs, CFAs, investment specialists and estate attorneys are also part of the team. Clients do not have a one-on-one relationship with a single advisor, and instead are served by a team that may change over time. A primary financial advisor, planning associate and client service representative constitute the core of each team.

“We have a systematic, proactive approach,” says Kerckhoff. “Going back 15 years ago, we had started putting in place work flows to make sure the planning topics were at the top of our agendas with our clients.”

Advice not only remains consistent within each client’s team, but from team to team. Thus, when a client walks into Plancorp, any advisor is capable of serving them with the same level of advice. No advisor working at Plancorp has an individual book of business, says Kerckhoff.

“I always had it in the back of my mind that this was a relationship business, so the team approach has been a departure,” says Kyle Attarian, a partner and wealth manager in the firm. “The way we’ve positioned it for clients is that they are a client of the firm, not the advisor, and we make a concerted effort to allow them to meet others at the firm through all the different stages of their careers—that sends a message to our clients that the relationship can live beyond my career or theirs and provides some peace of mind.”

Planning Relationships

In addition to the team approach, BrightPlan clients benefit from Plancorp’s broad expertise in a number of key planning areas. The firm’s planning relationship begins with helping clients simplify and understand all the forces impacting their financial lives, says King. For clients who have not yet retired, a retirement plan is drafted that charts their path toward financial independence.

Plancorp’s areas of expertise also include philanthropy and charitable giving, education funding planning, and employee benefit plan analysis. As needed, Plancorp also helps clients manage their cash flow and retirement withdrawals, plan their estates, proactively plan for the tax impacts of their financial decisions and purchase insurance.

“We provide advice; we do not sell products in-house,” says King. “We deal with insurance the same way we deal with income tax and estate planning: We’re providing analysis and advice, then partner with a trusted CPA, attorney or insurance broker so that they can ultimately execute the plan.”

A Plancorp team meets with clients at least once a year, but more frequently with clients who have larger, more complex plans. Smaller clients also receive more generalized advice, Attarian says. “We still provide expertise, just as we do for those with larger accounts and more complex situations, but it may be more general guidance up front. We also believe we can serve less affluent clients on a personal basis. All of our clients have 24-7 access to us if they have any questions.”

Internally, the firm’s team-based approach is reflected in its day-to-day operations and the relationships between employees and management. Employees are encouraged to compete as a team against other firms, instead of against each other as advisors.

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