Have you found your perfect partner? (and what to do if you haven’t)

Like finding the right romantic partner, it’s no exaggeration to say that a relationship with a wealth manager exactly suited to your profile and needs can be immeasurably life-enhancing. Peace of mind, robust investment returns and lower tax bills are just a few of the headline benefits such a partnership can bring. However, as with love, finding your perfect wealth management relationship can be a real challenge.  

The UK wealth management sector is very highly developed, but the fact that hundreds of very different providers are on offer can make navigating the market a real challenge. That some firms prefer to keep a low profile and it’s not always easy to see what level of wealth is required further complicates matters.

The UK wealth management sector is very highly developed, but the fact that hundreds of very different providers are on offer can make navigating the market a real challenge

findaWEALTHMANAGER.com launched back in 2012 to take the legwork – and guesswork – out of this process, and since then our free, impartial online matchmaking service has introduced thousands of individuals to their best-matched providers. And these aren’t just newcomers to professional wealth management: consistently, around 40% of our users are dissatisfied existing clients seeking a better arrangement.

A range of objective and subjective considerations will determine your compatibility with a particular provider (and remember it is a two-way process). Offering, geographical coverage and investment minimums help determine a factual match, but factors like servicing style are equally important. This is why we shortlist providers that can do everything you need, so you can choose the one that feels right.

Along with your needs, firms – and advisers – can change dramatically over time. Therefore, it pays to review an existing relationship periodically to ensure the fit is still good

Along with your needs, firms – and advisers – can change dramatically over time. Therefore, it pays to review an existing relationship periodically to ensure the fit is still good.

Ten questions to decide if a wealth manager is right for you

Whether you are comparing wealth managers for the first time or re-evaluating a current provider, asking yourself these questions will be invaluable in clarifying your thoughts.

1. Does my level of wealth fit the firm’s model?

While we will only match you to firms appropriate to your wealth level, consider asking what a typical client has. You may not wish to be among a firm’s smallest or, conversely, largest clients.

Also bear in mind that wealth managers may increase or decrease their investment thresholds, so what was initially a good fit might become less so over time.

2. Is the firm where I need it to be?

Some wealth managers have networks of offices throughout the UK, some a handful in key locations and others work solely out of the capital. Whether you need a provider close to your home or are happy to travel to periodic meetings is a very personal decision.

Whether you need a provider close to your home or are happy to travel to periodic meetings is a very personal decision

Regional coverage can also change over time and an office closure might signal the need for a change.

3. Is the service offering broad enough?

The first big question here is whether you need financial planning advice in addition to investment management. Many of our users seek a “one-stop-shop” (or drop their IFA over time).

In-house banking, lending and wealth structuring are among the huge array of services firms can offer, so ensure you get all the capabilities you need (now and looking ahead) by discussing things with a professional.

4. Does the investment style suit my aims (and tastes)?

The suitability of the investment offering – particularly the question of model versus bespoke – is key. Low-cost, passive investment vehicles like Exchange-Traded Funds may suit your needs, but you may be interested in more aggressive strategies or alternative asset classes.

Responsible and impact investing are also growing trends which may be accommodated by both specialists and many mainstream providers.

5. Can I get the investment returns I seek?

The types and means of investment on offer will have a big impact on the returns you can reasonably seek, as will the amount of personal attention paid to running your individual investments – but always consider returns as a function of risk.

Examine the investment track record of any potential provider over several periods. Or, if you have doubts about your current provider compare their results to those of competing firms.

6. Is the price right?

You should always think of investment returns in terms of gains net of all costs and fees. Signing up for higher fees in exchange for better returns may be a fair exchange, but ensure that these are delivered.

Transparency over costs is non-negotiable, however. A good wealth manager will explain everything in full, but our Guide to fees will further empower both new and experienced investors.

7. How do I feel about my adviser?

Your relationship with your personal adviser is crucial. You need to be comfortable discussing your situation and goals with them, and their way of working must suit yours. Don’t be afraid to ask potential wealth managers to propose alternatives.

Your relationship with your personal adviser is crucial. You need to be comfortable discussing your situation and goals with them, and their way of working must suit yours

The departure of a longstanding adviser is a common trigger-point to change wealth manager, and sometimes it pays to move forward with someone with a fresh take on your goals.

8. Do I like the firm’s style?

A huge variety of wealth managers are on offer in the UK, ranging from blue-blooded private banks to newer brands that might place less emphasis on their heritage and luxurious surrounds.

Many clients enjoy using a prestige brand and all the hospitality opportunities likely to come along with that, while this means little to others. Ensure your preferences are met here, even as a wealth manager evolves over time.

9. Do I like the structure (and ownership) of the firm?

Wealth managers can be arms of international banking groups or small boutiques at the other end of the scale. Where a provider sits on this spectrum will dictate whether you can be offered facilities like international booking centres for your assets, but also whether you are one among thousands of clients.

Whether a firm is independent, part of a larger multi-national or owned by investors like a private equity company can influence service standards and costs. Mergers and acquisitions are therefore also big trigger points for change.

10. Is the balance of human and high-tech right for me?

A final, very personal choice is how much emphasis is placed on face-to-face meetings and hardcopy communications versus digital interactions.

Some firms see ongoing personal interaction as more important than others, but equally things like online portfolio access may be a deal-breaker for you.

What if I’ve answered “no” a lot?

Answering these ten questions will have gone a long way towards helping you decide if a prospective wealth manager is your perfect partner, or if your existing provider is still “the one” for you. If you have answered “no” to a number of these questions, then looking at other institutions is probably your best path.

Having been with your current provider for a while, you may fear that change will bring hassle, expense and the risk of things going wrong, but this couldn’t be further from the case. Clients actually move all the time and firms are well practiced at being on both sides of this equation. You are likely to find the process far faster, easier and stress-free than you imagine – and, as our Guide to changing wealth manager explains, you needn’t even have the “divorce conversation” at all.

In short, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by pursuing a perfect match. The range of institutions on our panel means there is one suitable for every type of investor and situation, so why not put our smart online matching tool to work and explore your options.

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