Recipe for a Great Wealth Management Firm

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Clients often ask us who our competitors are.  We believe in being transparent, so we provide a list of who we think are the top financial advisors in the DC area. Most firms that make our list are there for a reason: because we believe they’ve done a good job of building a firm that benefits their clients.

Once a few key elements are in place, we think it becomes simple to build a great wealth management firm.  Here are the steps we’ve tried to take to build a great financial advisory firm for our clients:

1) Remove conflicts of interest for the financial advisor

Removing conflicts of interest changes the conversations the best financial advisors have with their clients when making recommendations. It creates a sense of relief for both the advisor and the client because they can be sure there is no hidden agenda or purpose behind the recommendations: what the advisor is recommending isn’t because they’re earning a bigger fee on one investment over the other.

If the advisor is a fiduciary, the discussion centers around what’s best for the client, not which investment earns the advisor a higher commission check. Remove conflicts of interest and the advisor has already started building trust with their clients.

2) Hire the right people

Hiring the right people is key to success in any business. But for Glassman Wealth Services that means hiring curious people. What do we mean by that?

If we have a curious advisor leading a client relationship, they’re not going to skim over opportunities or stop at broad questions about the client’s general situation. The best financial advisors are going to be curious enough to dive in and explore the details. This means they’ll search for more opportunities on their client’s behalf – like the potential for a Roth IRA conversion, gifting appreciated stock to a charity instead of cash, or checking the client’s tax return for potentially missed deductions.

A curious advisor will test ideas wondering if they’ll work, and sometimes they won’t; but the advisor will have learned more from the experience and can serve the client better in the future. The key is to be inquisitive enough to dive in to see how a strategy might play out and if it is in the best interest of the client.

3) Have deep independent research

Having a wealth of deep, independent research sources is a key part of a successful wealth management firm. Many firms could build out an in-house team of 20 or 30 research professionals – but at Glassman Wealth services we think we’re better off working with research teams from outside our firm.

Why? Clients deserve a team (or teams) of professionals with an outside perspective and a different way of thinking. It’s important not just to have an outsourced group, but a think tank who benefits from sharing ideas with a number of other advisors and institutions.  This kind of group can sit around a table with you, dive in, and treat the client portfolio like an MBA case study.

4) Make sure your team has time for client service

A crucial step in building a great firm for clients is ensuring that each client advisor has enough time to dedicate towards client service, and that means having a few enough number of clients per advisor. Successful advisors need time to explore smart ideas, apply the best thinking, review the wide breadth of investment research out there – and still have time to apply it to you and your family.

Even if an advisor is smart and has the greatest team, if they have hundreds of clients per advisor, it’s much harder to get to know the family, identify what strategies are appropriate, and then have the time to walk you through how those strategies apply to you to help you make the right decisions.

how-to-change-your-financial-advisor“Learn more about which type of advisor is right for you, The Four Types of Financial Advisors.”

Barry Glassman, CFP®
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