All too often an assembly of high-powered professionals can lead to conflict as egos get rubbed raw, especially when there's only one team leader.

Such turf wars must be avoided because they'll fracture the network and compromise the quality of client service. Sometimes the fault lies with the wealth manager, who fails to set the ground-rules for the collaborative process (and forgets what it's like to be part of a network). At other times, the specialist may commit the cardinal sin of trying to cut the wealth manger out by working directly with the client.

This can be avoided by spelling out everyone's role up front and, again, making it clear who's in charge and what the protocols are. It's the wealth manager who should be overseeing all client contact and formal (oral if not written) contracts should cover what's presented to clients as well as how and when it's presented.

Caution: Advisors Already On Board

For all of the top resources a wealth manger may be able to muster, many clients will already have a trusted accountant or insurance agent in place and may not be receptive to the idea of seeing their expert shunted aside. That doesn't mean the resources shouldn't be lined up, however, as not every client will have every type of specialist on board.

By using the Whole Client Model discussed in a recent column, a wealth manager will find out which other advisors are being used as well as the nature and duration of the relationship. That information will help when it comes to deciding whether or not to bring in an expert and, if one is to be brought in, how to make it happen. Even if a client is completely committed to and satisfied with an advisor, they're often open to new faces and new ideas. Indeed, the wealth manager's specialist may have expertise of value even if there's some overlap; given the breadth of legal scholarship, one lawyer can certainly inform another on certain aspects of the law, for instance.

If a client does have an advisor with whom she or he already has a good working relationship, a wealth manager will have to make that specialist part of the team. Doing so, however, has its own rewards in that it may lead to referrals. Along the way, the wealth manager may have to give up the lead in some cases and act as a team member by bringing his or her select expertise to bear. In any event, the wealth manager should at all times avoid being seen as an interloper trying to wrest a client away.

Exhibit 1: The Wealth Management Checklist





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