During turbulent market conditions, many families who invest with financial advisors begin to second-guess the safety of their assets, often wondering whether there is anything different their advisors should be doing to safeguard their investments and in turn, their financial futures.
“How can I be certain,” they ask, “that my financial advisor is taking all the right steps with my wealth given the difficult economic climate?”
The answer, to the surprise of many, is not as complicated as one might think.
While there are many factors that play into the safety of one’s investments, particularly during more difficult markets, the quality and caliber of the financial advisor to whom one entrusts their assets is above and beyond the most defining factor in asset protection, both in good markets and in bad.
But what exactly is meant by quality and caliber, and what determines whether a financial advisor belongs in this select group? And most importantly, how do families know if they are working with one of these highly-differentiated professionals?
At Aronson SpringReef, we work with individuals and families of significant means to identify, evaluate and recommend precisely these types of professionals – what we call ‘best-in-class’ financial advisors – part of a small, exceptional set of ethical, client-centric professionals who consistently differentiate themselves through the advice and service they provide.
With the right balance of experience, capabilities and attentiveness to client needs, these exceptional, high-quality advisors provide the type of guidance and dedication that instills in their clients a sense of comfort and trust, and often leads to stronger, more consistent financial results – even in more difficult market conditions.
To determine best-in-class quality, Aronson SpringReef looks for the financial advisors we evaluate and recommend to demonstrate the characteristics below.
We begin with what we call “The Fundamentals” – a set of basic factors an advisor must meet prior to any further consideration for our clients. These factors include a minimum of seven years of relevant experience in investment management, an excellent compliance and regulatory record, a strong employment history, and focus on and experience with high net worth clients.
While these factors do not necessarily indicate advisor excellence when considered on their own, they do form the foundation for a quality advisor business and experience-driven advice. And it is this foundation that families should immediately look for when assessing their own wealth management providers.
Once it’s been determined that the required fundamentals are in place, families should turn their eyes towards the quality of the business their advisors have built.
For the evaluations we conduct, one of the most important indicators of business quality is the nature of an advisor’s wealth management process. We believe that best-in-class financial advisors offer to each and every one of their clients a complete, end-to-end wealth management process, defined by a thorough assessment of risk tolerance, modeling of risk projections, and implementation of client-specific strategic asset allocations.
When the economy hits a bout of turbulence, advisors who’ve implemented this process make tactical shifts in their recommended asset allocations, a move that not only helps to safeguard the wealth of their clients but also helps them to take advantage of the emotion of the markets.
A well-defined wealth management process will not be successful without quality client service and exceptional communication, two attributes families should insist upon in their financial advisors.
Best-in-class financial advisors provide consistent levels of service and communication to their clients, and do so even more during difficult markets. These advisors speak with the families with whom they work to provide them with well-founded input on investment ideas, allocations shifts and future opportunities. And because these quality professionals have the critical processes and experience needed to navigate these markets and emerge successfully, they are able to communicate this confidence and instill the same in their clients.
Many people ask how performance factors into the determination of a quality advisor. While performance is undoubtedly an important aspect of a client’s wealth management experience, it’s really only one of the pieces of the puzzle. The factors listed above, when combined with sustainable, repeatable performance lead to the exceptional client experience that is critical in difficult markets.
By weaving a strong wealth management process into the core of their business and coupling it with exceptional service and communication, best-in-class financial advisors have a greater chance of preserving the assets they manage and instilling in their clients a sense of stability and comfort, particularly during tumultuous markets.
What is more, these advisors are able to bestow upon their clients a unique confidence in the face of difficult market conditions, allowing them to recognize that turbulent times are not always something to be feared, but rather something of which they can take advantage.
In truth, the combination of these attributes is something every client should expect and demand from their financial advisor. If the guidance above seems foreign and out of tune with your own wealth management experience, it may be time to have a serious discussion with your financial advisor, or to perhaps begin the process of finding a new one.