Learning More About Clients With the Whole Client Model
How to find out what you need to know about a client.

Editor's Note: The following column is excerpted from the authors' latest book, Wealth Management: The New Business Model for Financial Advisors.

Over the past few years, we've made the case for the move to the wealth management model, which allows an advisor and his or her team to deliver a full range of interrelated brokerage, investment and advanced planning services in a highly consultative way.

For affluent clients, the wealth management model simplifies and centralizes their financial lives, no small task given the choices and complexity they're confronted with. One person, the wealth manager, becomes responsible for every aspect (or critical aspects) of the client's financial well-being. Our research also has shown that the affluent generally prefer this model--they tend to want that higher level of connection and context.

The benefits for the advisor are no less substantive: a better and broader relationship that in turn leads to more products and services, as well as high-quality referrals.

Information Gathering

Implicit in the difference between advisors and wealth managers is the idea that the latter must have a far more intimate understanding of their clients and what they need so they can establish a consultative relationship: They can do more for them because they know more about them.

One way to demonstrate the difference between advisors and wealth managers when it comes to how they work with clients is by looking at the way they gather information. For financial advisors, there's no shortage of forms, fact finders and questionnaires. But from the wealth management perspective, many of those tools are skewed by a narrow focus on investable assets and net worth.

The wealth manager takes a far different-and far more personal-tack. We evaluated top advisors and successful wealth managers as to how they gathered information and what kind of questions they asked of their affluent clients. The result, the Whole Client Model, is a data-gathering tool that can influence and inform the nature and success of the wealth management relationship.

The Whole Client Model is organized into the following six sections, with such sample questions as:

1: Goals

What are your personal and professional goals?

What do you want (or feel obligated to do) for your spouse, children, other family members, friends, society and the world at large?

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