Finding your best wealth manager

Until recently, it has been very difficult for people to compare different wealth managers, at least not without hours of online research and telephone calls. The laborious nature of this task has meant wealth managers are often just selected based on word-of-mouth recommendation, perhaps from a friend, colleague or professional contact. Unfortunately, this has meant affluent individuals often end up with wealth managers ill-suited to their needs.

Recognising this problem, Dominic Gamble, a former wealth manager, and Lee Goggin, one of Dominic’s clients, co-founded findaWEALTHMANAGER.com, a free online service to match clients with the right wealth managers.

The service streamlines the process into four simple steps:

  • You give our smart online tool some details via a short questionnaire

  • Our system identifies a maximum of three managers that best matches your needs from our panel of institutions

  • If you’re happy, we arrange for the right person from each company to make contact at a time to suit you

  • You decide which feels best – or whether none does. You are under no obligation.

What kinds of wealth managers are there?

Wealth management takes many forms. Some wealth managers are part of global banking groups or High Street brands. Some pride themselves on discretion and prefer to keep a low profile.

A few will accept clients with as little as £50,000 to invest, while some are only likely to consider individuals with several millions of pounds of investible wealth.

They all exist to help people navigate an increasingly complex financial landscape, providing investment management, tax expertise and guidance topics such as inheritance or retirement.

There are four main types of wealth management provider:

  • Boutique

Boutique wealth management firms can specialise in tailoring bespoke investment portfolios for clients. Many have a particular investment style. As an investor you may have specific demands, such as ethical investing, that a boutique wealth manager will be equipped to meet.

Advantages: a more personal service and low staff turnover.

Disadvantages: costs may be slightly higher than average and boutiques generally don’t have the same broad range of expertise as an international bank.

  • Private Bank

Private banks offer traditional banking facilities with high levels of customer service. Alongside wealth management, many offer additional services such as specialist mortgages, asset-backed lending, investment advice and financial planning. A private bank may also give clients access to private equity deals and Initial Public Offerings via its investment banking arm.

Advantages: exceptional levels of customer care, bespoke products and access to private equity and IPOs.

Disadvantages: the range of expertise available may differ between private banks, making it more difficult to choose.

  • International Bank

Large multinationals have divisions to look after high net worth individuals. Because of their global reach, they have access to the full spectrum of investment products and services.

Advantages: international expertise and many services available for those with   complex financial affairs.

Disadvantages: employees are often moved around so a client’s point of contact may change and new relationships have to be built up.

  • Investment Adviser

An investment adviser is essentially a financial planning partner who helps you to identify your financial goals and create a plan to achieve them. They are likely to accept clients with a lower level of investible wealth than a conventional wealth manager.

Advantages: a first step for those seeking professional advice about their wealth and a few may offer full-service wealth management.

Disadvantages: the role often stops at asset allocation and risk profiling. Additional services are likely to be outsourced at extra cost to the client.

How do I interview a wealth manager?

Choosing a wealth manager isn’t like buying car insurance. Personal contact with the individuals to whom you will entrust your assets is vital. So, once you have a shortlist from findaWEALTHMANAGER.com, it’s time to get introduced, either with a simple telephone call or a meeting.

Personality goes a long way and it is important to have a good relationship with your wealth manager. But however well you get on, relationships can quickly become strained if you’re uncomfortable with how your assets are being managed or if performance proves disappointing.

A good wealth manager can give you detailed information on how, when and where they’ll invest your assets, and they’ll be able to support their decisions with facts and figures. Most importantly, they’ll help you understand what can be a complex process, so never be nervous about asking for clarification if there’s anything you don’t understand.

Discuss any previous dips in performance they may have experienced, because protecting your assets from stock-market shocks is one of a wealth manager’s key responsibilities. Find out how they coped with the market slump immediately following the EU referendum or during 2008/2009, for example.

Bear in mind that it’s perfectly natural to see variations in wealth manager performance over time. Constant returns in all market conditions aren’t natural at all.

Which questions should I ask?

To help prospective wealth management clients, the findaWEALTHMANAGER.com team has come up with a list of questions to ask when meeting wealth managers.

  • What charges do I pay for your services?

Wealth managers are legally obliged to make their charges completely clear. This includes an annual management charge of between 0.5% to 1% of total assets under management, in addition to charges for buying and selling assets. Some charge performance fees. Tax planning and other services may cost extra.

  • Does my profile match that of existing clients?

Find out if the firm has experience of helping people with goals and risk-profiles similar to yours. This is particularly useful if you have specialist financial planning needs, as might, for example, a professional sportsperson or entrepreneur with international business interests.

  • Will I speak to the person managing my money?

An investment manager will be responsible for your portfolio, but you may only rarely speak to them. Often, wealth management firms employ relationship managers to look after the client relationship. These are often skilled personnel too, so there are arguments in favour of both models, but asking the question will force them to be very clear about how they’ll make sure your needs are met and how they’ll communicate portfolio management decisions to you.

  • How many clients do your relationship or investment managers look after?

This is important as it dictates the amount of time an adviser can spend on each client’s portfolio. Client-adviser ratios vary according to the level of wealth each adviser’s clients represent and the complexity of their affairs. Those working in the mass affluent market may have a hundred or more clients on their books, while those servicing ultra-high net worth individuals may have fewer than 20.

  • How well do you understand my investment profile?

Does the wealth manager understand your financial circumstances and objectives? Good wealth managers are able to assess clients’ true capacity for risk and volatility. They’re bound by law to recommend investments that are properly aligned with your profile and needs. Additionally, they must regularly reassess your investment strategy and explain this process.

  • What has your investment performance been historically?

Past performance can’t be relied on as a guide to future performance, but a good wealth manager should be able to give examples of how portfolios have performed for clients with profiles similar to yours. What you’re looking for is “outperformance”, meaning the degree to which the wealth manager delivered gains in excess of general market rises or an appropriate performance benchmark.

  • Which other services do you provide apart from investment management?

Wealth managers vary considerably. If your affairs are complex and span different international territories, then you’ll need a wide range of financial and legal services. Alternatively, you might simply want a wealth manager to grow your assets.

  • What happens if I’m unhappy about something?

This is an important question. A potential client shouldn’t be embarrassed to ask it and a provider should be able to answer easily. It’s worth asking about a wealth management firm’s complaints procedure if you’re unhappy. The quicker any misunderstanding or grievances are settled, the better, even if it means switching provider. There’s no sense in staying with a professional if you’re not satisfied.

  • How safe is my money?

A wealth manager does not have title to the assets under management, this sits with a third party, known as a custodian. All custodians have an AAA credit rating so, should a wealth management firm fail, client assets are safe. All institutions on the findaWEALTHMANAGER.com panel are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Summary

In the past, choosing a wealth manager was a haphazard affair, depending largely on word of mouth, professional connections or simple guesswork. This often resulted in clients ending up with wealth managers ill-suited to their needs.

Our matching service designed with the simple goal of enabling people to choose from a shortlist of suitable wealth managers whose capabilities and expertise match their financial requirements.

We estimate that many more people could benefit from wealth management expertise, but are put off by the apparent complexity of the industry and confused by the variety of services available.

Our aim is to demystify wealth management and make it easier to access so that more people reach their financial goals smoothly and cost-effectively.

Let us take the guesswork (and legwork) out of finding the best provider for you

If you haven’t considered using a wealth manager before – or if you haven’t reviewed your existing manager to check their competitiveness and suitability – use findaWEALTHMANAGER.com to configure your ideal provider.

By speaking to more than one suitable wealth manager, users of our service can compare fees and are in a stronger position to get a better deal. Additionally, a wealth manager introduced to client via findaWEALTHMANAGER.com understands that they are competing for your business so are more likely to offer more competitive rates.

Our free independent service removes the guesswork from finding a wealth manager. Provide our smart online tool with some details about your situation and requirements, and it will generate a maximum of three wealth managers appropriate for your profile. Then you can choose to have these firms contact you at a suitable time to further discuss your needs.

Having read this guide to finding your best wealth manager you are primed to weigh up all the factors entailed in finding precisely the right fit. Our expert team will also be on hand to discuss your options at any point in the process – just get in touch.

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Find your best wealth manager with our 3-minute search

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We're Here To Help You

Find your best wealth manager with our 3-minute search

Get Started