Brad Tedrick heads WFY Wealth Management, a distinctive division of Wright, Ford, Young & Co., Orange County's largest single-office accounting firm. With a unique approach that combines audit, tax, trust and estate, business consulting services, and wealth management, Wright, Ford, Young & Co. has consistently supported closely held companies, family enterprises, and private foundations in the dynamic southern California marketplace for over 50 years.

Russ Alan Prince: Can you explain the logic behind Wright, Ford, Young & Co.'s establishing a wealth management practice?

Brad Tedrick: Several factors contributed to establishing WFY Wealth Management. Topping the list is our desire to provide greater value to our clients.

Many of our clients were getting subpar and inappropriate wealth management advice. Investment advisors, insurance agents, and tax plan promoters aim to sell something to our clients without regard to what really matters to them. Our approach is drastically different than that of most professionals. We focus on ways to add value, which sometimes doesn’t lead to financial strategies and products. The answer is always what works best for clients.

We’re also very attentive to the tax implications of wealth management solutions, which is pretty rare in the industry. For our clients, it’s not a matter of finding hot investments but how investments help them achieve their goals and address their concerns. This is only possible by considering different investments' current and future tax implications. Simply put, it’s not just what investors make on their portfolios but what they keep.

An excellent example of this is specially designed rainy-day and dynasty funds. For some wealthier investors, there are ways to enable them to eliminate all taxes on the growth of their portfolios. Our approach to investment management is much more than creating high-performing investment portfolios. It's about aligning these investments with our clients’ objectives, including mitigating taxes.

Prince: Can you give us some examples of the types of clients you work with?

Tedrick: WFY Wealth Management is designed to support all the clients at Wright, Ford, Young & Co., from those with minimal financial needs to those with extensive business interests worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The aim is to enable the firm to deliver exceptional value to all its clients.

Many of the firm’s clients are successful business owners who are being poorly served by their current advisors. Some business owners have been pitched and bought financial products, leading to financial problems. That’s why we’re often asked to provide a second opinion, and we usually find that the business owners are unlikely to get the results they’re looking for, or if they get their desired results, they are significantly overpaying.

In providing second opinions, we regularly identify ways to help successful business owners grow their wealth, which hinges on a deep understanding of the tax code. For example, most successful business owners are interested in ways to pay less income taxes. We commonly find ways for them, using wealth management solutions, to help them grow their wealth and pay less income taxes. Some sophisticated retirement plans that many advisors are unaware of enable successful business owners to put away hundreds if not millions of dollars tax-deferred where they derive most of the benefit.

Prince: What is your approach to working with clients?

Tedrick: Unlike many advisors in the wealth management industry, we never tell clients what to do. We’re opposed to any form of selling. We work with smart people, and our approach is to help them make smart decisions after developing an in-depth understanding of their goals and concerns and analyzing their current and projected financial situation.

Up to this point, there’s no cost to the clients. If we cannot find ways to add significant value, and it does happen, the clients know their wealth management solutions are as good as it gets. On the other hand, when we find ways to add value, including ensuring the clients are not missing out on meaningful opportunities, we help them evaluate the possibilities, including understanding the advantages and disadvantages of the various wealth management solutions.

In this way, they can make informed and intelligent decisions, which we then help implement. Again, our approach is far from the norm in the wealth management industry. Still, it does result in our clients getting the best cost-effective wealth management solutions for their unique situations.

Because we continually consider the impact of taxes when working with clients, the extensive capabilities of the accountants at Wright, Ford, Young & Co. are critically important. For example, Nancy Van Lanen is the practice leader for the trusts and estates group and a renowned authority in the field. She and I often work very closely on behalf of clients to ensure that not only are the clients' disposition of their assets aligned with their wishes, but all the ways to minimize and, in some cases, eliminate taxes are considered and, when appropriate, implemented.

One more point about our approach. We often bring creative, state-of-the-art wealth management and tax solutions to our clients when they make sense. At the same time, we are conservative, meaning we stay within the lines. We know very well where the lines are and will not cross them. Being conservative and innovative gives us an enormous number of wealth management solutions that we can tailor for our clients.

Russ Alan Prince is a strategist for family offices and the ultra-wealthy. He has co-authored 70 books in the field, including Making Smart Decisions: How Ultra-Wealthy Families Get Superior Wealth Planning Results.