Gathering the Info You Need to Work with a Wealth Advisor
If you’ve achieved more than $250,000 in assets, you may want to consider working with a wealth advisor, also known as a “wealth manager.” This type of financial advisor specializes in holistic — i.e, “big picture”— financial planning for clients who’ve already amassed a sizable nest egg.
Tap into the expertise of a wealth manager and you can continue to grow your wealth, while protecting your assets and planning for your family’s future.
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In this guide, you’ll learn:
How a wealth advisor can fine-tune your finances
Which documents you’ll need to be ready to share with them
The questions you may want to ask during your first meeting
What Does a Wealth Advisor Do?
Think of a wealth advisor as a financial advisor with even more expertise. For instance, they can offer guidance in areas like:
A wealth advisor can devise strategies, select stocks, execute trades, and monitor investments within your financial portfolio.
Who would you like to receive your assets after your death? A wealth advisor can help you designate beneficiaries and heirs, and maneuver through the (often) complicated estate planning process.
A trust is a powerful legal document. It can establish your wishes for how and when to transfer your assets. It can also ensure that your finances will be well-managed if you’re unable to handle them yourself.
How can your assets make a difference in the world? A wealth advisor can help you game out a thoughtful, effective giving strategy.
Business succession planning
If you own, or are a partner, in a business, it’s important to ensure how it will keep running smoothly without you at the helm.
You may not be thinking of tax implications each time you make an investment, but a wealth advisor will. They’ll also be up to date on tax code changes, ways you can maximize your employer benefits, and the best time to convert pre-tax IRAs to Roth IRAs.
Socially responsible investing
Want to put money into companies or funds that are trying to make a positive social impact? Great! But social responsibility doesn’t always guarantee a sound financial decision. A wealth advisor can help you assess the financial outlook of SRIs (socially responsible investments).
What’s the best way to give financial gifts to children or other family members? A wealth manager can explain the pros and cons of different options, including a custodial account, 529 education savings plan, and trust.
Equity and stock-based benefits
If stock or equity is part of your employee compensation package, a wealth manager can help plan how to reap the biggest benefits while keeping tax consequences to a minimum.
It’s not unusual for wealth managers to coordinate services beyond the realm of finances. For instance, they may help connect you to a lawyer if you need extensive legal services they can’t provide. Some wealth advisors also offer lifestyle benefits, like helping you secure concierge healthcare.
What Should You Look For In a Wealth Advisor?
“Wealth advisor” is a broad term, so before you sign on the dotted line, pay attention to their qualifications. There’s no singular path to becoming this type of financial expert but a few credentials you might want to look out for include:
Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®)
A top certification in the financial planning industry, “CFP” means that a wealth advisor meets rigorous education, training, and ethical standards set by the CFP Board of Standards. That includes passing a board exam that tests their ability to apply financial planning know-how to real life situations.
Retirement Income Certified Professional® (RICP®)
If a wealth advisor has this credential, which is granted by the American College of Financial Services, one of their specialties is working with people who are near, or preparing to enter, retirement.
Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
A CFA has at least 4,000 hours of professional work-related experience and/or higher education, and has passed three rigorous exams that touch on accounting, ethics, finance, and math. The CFA credential, which is earned through the internationally recognized CFA Institute, is highly respected within the investment management industry.
Chartered Wealth Manager
Granted by the Global Academy of Finance and Management, the CWM designation certifies professional competence in areas that include financial planning, investments, money and banking, and economics. A CWM will have a Master’s degree in a relevant field (like law or math) and over five years of experience.
Some wealth advisors also come into the role as licensed attorneys or certified public accountants, bringing additional professional skills and experience that can come in handy.
What Information Will You Need to Share with a Wealth Advisor?
To best understand how to help you, a wealth advisor will need to get a clear sense of the assets you own, debts you owe, and your personal spending habits. Often, you’ll be asked to fill out a questionnaire so they can get a better sense of your situation. The more transparent you can be, the better.
Some financial aspects of your life that are helpful to be candid about include:
Short-term financial goals (like saving for a family vacation)
Long-term financial goals (like wanting to leave a nest egg for your children)
Your relationship with money
A self-assessment of your financial literacy (How skilled are you at money matters like budgeting, banking, investing, and dealing with debt?)
Your risk tolerance (How much uncertainty and loss can you tolerate when making a financial decision?)
How involved you like to be with financial planning
Get ready to also share the important docs that will help a wealth advisor get a clearer picture of your current financial landscape — and formulate a plan to get you where you’d like to be.
Among the information you should be prepared to share:
Your family budget or a breakdown of your monthly expenses
Your latest credit card statements
Income documents (like W-2s)
Most recent pay stubs
Bank statements (checking and savings)
Investment account statements
Your most recent tax returns
Details about all real estate holdings (like current values and mortgage interest rates)
Rental income (including any expenses you’ve paid for upkeep)
Information about any funds or policies for which you’re a beneficiary
Employer benefits statement
Locating sensitive financial documents like these can be a hassle, but once you do, Trustworthy can help. Our platform gives you one centralized place to keep all your family’s most important information, and we’re the only online service that exceeds industry standards for security and privacy.
Once you upload all your documents, Trustworthy can help you seamlessly organize them. We also allow you to securely share them with whomever you wish. You won’t have to worry about encrypting and emailing PDFs to a wealth advisor, or carrying a cumbersome file of hard copies with you to an in-person meeting.
What Questions Should You Ask a Wealth Advisor?
It’s not only okay to have questions for your wealth advisor, but encouraged. It’s your money, after all, so you want to be informed
Some things you might want to ask during your meeting:
What’s your investment philosophy?
What types of clients do you typically work with?
Do you feel that we have the appropriate investments to meet our goals?
How could we better manage our investments?
How can we protect ourselves from risk?
What tax-planning strategies can you recommend?
What recent market trends or legislative changes could affect my finances?
How often do you meet with clients?
Will we work solely with you, or with any of your colleagues?
If a wealth advisor didn’t come your way through a word of mouth recommendation, consider asking for them to put you in touch with a few of their current clients. You want to know that you’re starting this journey — which will hopefully be a long and successful one — with an expert whom you can trust.