More often than not, when advising individuals and families, we find that another advisor in the planning process—for example, an attorney, accountant, financial planner, etc.—can provide us with an answer as thorough or even more so than what the clients themselves can provide.
It is incumbent upon advisors to high net worth (HNW) individuals and their families, then, to be proactive and reach out to these other advisors as often as necessary to ensure that portfolios are properly protected. The “quarterback” of the team may be different—most often someone from the single-family office (SFO) or multi-family office (MFO)—but that is not always the case.
This is the time for the advisors to get together and discuss how each of them fits into the program. It’s during this mutual discovery process that we find there are more trusts than were first thought, that property titles have changed, that a vehicle used by domestic staff in another state or country was sold, and so on.
Yes, direct contact with the clients on a regular basis as they request is also important, but there is no more important part of the planning process than to make sure all of the advisors are connected. The reason: All can provide valuable information and insight to protect the client.
So, how and when does the client involve or introduce all of the players in the planning process?
Simple: As soon as a new advisor is brought into the mix, he or she should be introduced to the “quarterback” of the planning team and all other parties. The introduction should be made by the client, when possible, or by the MFO or SFO, so that everyone involved understands the role of the new advisor, the issues he or she will be dealing with and the importance of open and regular communication.
If this process has never occurred, which we find to be the case with about one in five high net worth clients, then we recommend an introduction be made when we ourselves are brought on. It is often surprising to us that advisors have not been introduced and connected. When we ask why or how that happened, the answer is most often, “I don’t know. I guess we just added people as we needed them, and nobody ever recommended we connect them all.”
This “. . . nobody ever recommended we connect them” response is shocking when you consider the utterly complex needs of ultra high net worth (UHNW) clients. If you, as a HNW or UHNW individual or family, haven’t connected your advisors, let this be your wake-up call! It will save you time, make it more likely that your program will have fewer or no holes and let you sleep better at night knowing your team is talking.
All descriptions, summaries, or highlights of coverage are for general informational purposes only and do not amend, alter or modify the actual terms or conditions of any insurance policy. Coverage is governed only by the terms and conditions of the relevant policy.