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Recently, I’ve been asked by two potential clients why they should hire us. It was a very direct question, which I always appreciate, and I gave them a direct response. You choose us for our customer service, our results, and because you trust us. Plain and simple.
For people we know already, that trust comes easily and already exists. For those who haven’t met us yet, we have to prove our trust to them. We establish this through conversations and meetings, providing transparency on who we are and what we do so that they make their decision to hire us with the utmost confidence.
When deciding how to pick a wealth management firm or a financial advisor, trust is paramount. You need to get a feel for the firm and the advisor. Ask questions like the one above: why should I hire you?
Other questions you should ask:
- What's your investment philosophy?
- What’s the investment strategy?
- How much do you charge?
- Who is your ideal client and who is your typical client?
- How soon do you respond back to client calls or emails?
- What sort of support do you have?
- What services do you provide?
Some just provide portfolio management, while others provide comprehensive wealth management services including financial and retirement planning. I provide clients with a list of over 75 services and strategies we include so clients know what services they are receiving beyond investments.
While meeting the advisor provides the clearest pathway to trust, you should look up the advisor and the firm online. Check out their website. Google them. Find them on https://brokercheck.finra.org/. Get familiar with them before choosing a wealth management firm.
While not necessarily the most important questions to ask, here are some of the most common questions I get from potential clients:
- What will we do when the market tanks?
- What do you think will happen with the market?
- When do you think is a good time to buy?
- What will we buy?
- How often are you watching our portfolio?
- How do you charge?
- How often will we meet?
Hearing the advisor’s responses to your questions will help you determine if they are the right wealth manager for you.
Boutique Wealth Management Firms
Our industry has changed so much over the past few decades, not to mention the past 5 years. Technology now allows independent firms, like ours, to have a greater reach and to deliver top-notch customer service and results.
By partnering with Commonwealth Financial Network, the largest privately-owned RIA-broker/dealer in the nation, we serve our clients in a way that differentiates us from the household big-name wealth management firms.
Commonwealth has $232B in AUM, has been around since 1979, has around 850 employees, works with around 1,950 financial advisors, and wins best-in-class awards year after year, yet most people have never heard of them. That’s because they don’t advertise, and they aren’t client-facing. Instead, the independent firms, like us, are client-facing.
Commonwealth provides us with the back-office support we need to allow us to serve our clients in a seamless and smart way. They provide services such as Compliance, Research, Investment Solutions, Trading, Technology, Marketing, and more. I’m on the phone several times a week with someone from Commonwealth regarding any of these.
Our clients have complex financial planning problems and opportunities. If we come across one that we do not encounter often, we can run it by our advanced planning team at Commonwealth, where it’s likely that they come across it on a regular basis with the other 1,950 advisors they work with.
Information moves at the speed of light. Clients expect current, institutional-quality investment research and we have a team for that at Commonwealth.
Choose the right wealth management firm for you
So, why should an investor choose a smaller investment firm like ours? Here are some thoughts:
- Technology: A lot of these larger firms are still using legacy software built in-house over the past several years and decades. I’ve experienced some of this software myself and it’s archaic. Financial firms aren’t tech firms. We are able to tie in (outsource) best-in-class software from the top fintech providers out there, such as Right Capital. We can do this because we are independent and not locked into the proprietary tech of a big-name firm. If another service comes along that is better than Right Capital, we can switch to their services easily.
- Price & Service: I tie these two together because, with independent firms, many times you can find the rare combination of better service and a better price. It can be compared to shopping at a department store vs. a boutique store. It’s likely the boutique store has better service, but what if the boutique store also had better prices? We are an independent firm focusing on clients first, through an emphasis on cost-effectiveness, tax-efficiency, and ongoing personalized planning strategies that can save clients money and boost returns.
- Offerings & Independence: Because we are independent, as is Commonwealth, we are free to act in your best interest, helping you follow the best course of action to meet your financial goals – without any pressure to promote proprietary products or strategies. Some other firms hold advisors accountable not just to their clients (rightfully so), but also to the parent company that employs them, and to its shareholders if its publicly traded.
- Keeping it local: If you are a fan of keeping your business local, finding an independent financial advisor in your city or town is the way to go.
When deciding how to pick a wealth management firm, there are several factors to consider, as evidenced above.
Also check out our post on a securities backed line of credit.
Schedule your complimentary appointment with us here.