Finding the right financial advisor and wealth manager for your needs as a high-net-worth individual is an important task.
After all, you'll be entrusting this individual or firm with the management of tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars over your lifetime. It makes sense to do a lot of research and make sure you hire the right person for the job!
Any financial advisor worth their salt will insist on an initial consultation where you both can meet, measure each other, and determine whether the partnership will be mutually beneficial. During that consultation, you should ask a handful of key questions to learn more about your potential partner.
What Does Asset Protection Mean to You?
First, ask a prospective wealth manager what asset protection truly means to them.
This is a broad question because you want to partner with a financial advisor who has the same philosophy as you do – it won't make sense to work with a financial advisor who's focused on hyper-aggressive growth when you want to preserve your wealth and ensure your estate is in good condition when you pass away, for example.
Furthermore, asking this question gives you an option to discover whether your personalities will mesh.
Your financial advisor will not, in all likelihood, be the trustee for any asset protection trust you set up later. But they will provide you with legal counsel, help guide and shape your overall financial strategy, and much more. The two of you need to work well together for the arrangement to work out.
Go with your gut when they answer. If they seem like a good fit, continue; if not, don’t hesitate to move on.
What Sorts of Clients Have You Worked With?
You'll also want to ask any hypothetical financial advisor what kinds of clients they've worked with in the past. This is a vetting question – you only want a wealth manager who has worked with other high-net-worth individuals, like entrepreneurs, business executives, successful investors, doctors, and more.
You don’t want to work with a financial advisor who mostly or entirely works with people of lower net worth. There are two big reasons for this:
- They won’t be experienced with the kinds of money and problems that you’ll bring to the table
- They won't be able to craft and maintain the wealth management solutions that you need as a high-net-worth professional
Furthermore, asking this question gives the wealth manager the opportunity to brag about their accomplishment. This is a good thing!
You only want to work with a wealth manager who has a lot of experience and a lot of satisfied clients to refer to for testimonials. If you want to go the extra mile, ask them for recommendations – if they’re upfront about who will recommend them, it’s a great sign.
What is Your Minimum Asset Requirement?
Similarly, ask a potential financial advisor what their minimum asset requirement is. They must have a minimum asset requirement to be worth your time and money; ideally, you want a wealth manager who only works with clients with a net worth of $10 million or more.
Again, this tells you that they are experienced in handling large amounts of money and will have the right solutions and strategies for someone of your financial caliber.
You have unique problems and defensive needs compared to someone with, say, $1 million in the bank account and nothing else. It’s in your best interest to pick the right specialist for your needs.
What is Your Experience?
Naturally, you should also ask a financial advisor what their experiences are. At Dominion, for example, our agents and financial advisors have over 100 years of experience shared between them – with all that experience, we’ve collectively seen it all, helped all different kinds of clients, and know all the tricks in the book when it comes to wealth preservation and protection.
A financial advisor might only work with high-net-worth clients, but if they don't have extensive experience, it's not your job to provide them with some training work. Move on. You're worth more than that.
Have You Handled Clients Similar to Me?
You can go into even more detail and ask a wealth manager if they’ve worked with anyone similar to you. "Similar" to you doesn't mean surface-level details – it means someone with the same wealth goals, problems, and potential hazards.
For instance, say you’re a successful business owner, and you primarily want to protect your assets from aggressive lawsuits, an ex-spouse, or something else.
If the wealth manager has tackled problems like that in the past, it’s a great sign because it means they already have the tools and expertise needed to provide the same solutions to you.
If a financial advisor admits that they haven’t handled clients similar to you, it’s a red flag. They might still work out, but you’ll probably still be better off going with a firm that has extensive experience in your specific area with your specific problems.
Who Will Handle My Account and Needs?
Don’t forget to ask a wealth manager who will be in charge of your account and who will handle your unique needs. In some cases, it will be the person or party you are talking to during your interview. In others, it will be someone you haven’t met yet.
You need to know this information so that – for example – your personality-gauging questions matter. If you meet with someone you aren't going to work with in the long term, it doesn't really matter if you like them or if you think that they understand your case perfectly.
You’ll need to ask the same questions of the agent or lawyer who will be assigned your case.
Most quality firms won’t make this mistake. If you ask, “Who will be in charge of my account?” they’ll normally say that they will be, should you choose to work with them. But it’s also important to ask this question so that you know the wealth management firm has enough staff on hand.
Some firms might try to take on too many clients with their staff sizes. Again, though, if you’ve been referred to a good wealth manager/financial advisory firm, odds are high that they won’t make this error.
How Long Do Your Clients Stay with You, On Average?
Ask a financial advisor how long the average client stays with them. You want to hear that the advisor’s clients stick with them for 20 years or more. Wealth management at your level is a decades-long affair, and you don’t want to have to switch partners again and again (which can be time-consuming and costly).
If the wealth manager says anything else, it's a big red flag. You want a wealth manager who shows loyalty and commitment to their clients, not a financial advisor who's in the business only for the money. Relationships and loyalty count for a lot in the wealth preservation sector.
What Do You Do to Maximize Results?
Then, ask the wealth manager what they do to maximize results for their clients. This can have several possible answers, ranging from reducing costs to maximizing income through smart investments or something else. But the answer will give you an idea of the advisor’s overall philosophy and the kinds of things they might try to do with your case.
If those suggestions match up, great. If not, continue to ask questions and determine if the wealth manager will be right for what you need for your wealth management in the long term.
When Can We Get Started with an Asset Protection Strategy?
Your last question should be focused on learning when you can get started. If it’s done properly, setting up an asset protection trust and taking other steps will take several months from start to finish.
A good wealth manager should be able to get started immediately if all of their ducks are in a row and if you two think you’ll be good fits for each other.
If the advisor says that they won’t have time to work on your case for some weeks or months, it’s a sign that they are understaffed or that they are already committed to their existing clients. In either case, you should look for a different financial advisor.
Contact Dominion Today
These collective questions will give you a much better understanding of a financial advisor or wealth manager before you sign them on to be your trustee or partner.
Remember, if a wealth manager says that a consultation isn’t needed or acts as though you can learn everything you need over the phone, move on.
At Dominion, we’re happy to answer each of these questions for you and much more. We pride ourselves on making our clients totally comfortable and secure in their decision to work with us. It’s why we’ve cultivated such a satisfied clientele and it’s why we’re the best in the asset protection business.
We do offer initial consultations for all prospective clients, during which you can ask these questions and much more. To learn more about how we can assist with your wealth protection goals, get in touch with one of our representatives today to schedule a meeting.