Private bankers are often thought to have advantages over financial advisors. One advantage is the ability to provide most services on an in-house basis. It has been said private bankers first establish the relationship, then build a moat around it. As a financial advisor you may have some comparable advantages through your team and your extended team.
- You are the center of the relationship. Actually, consider you are standing in front of your client. From your point of view, they are the center of the relationship. Your purpose it to build a long-term relationship by helping the client through services you can provide. From the client’s point of view, you are the center of the relationship. I knew a financial advisor who would explain: “I will bring the resources of the firm into your living room.”
- Your sales support. The person who handles the administrative side of your practice is often the first point of contact for the client. Put another way, they are the person who gets things done. If the client needs to get a transfer done, money raised or a paperwork problem resolved, they likely get the ball rolling. A key element of value is when they call, they reach a live person who knows their name and vice versa. They are often licenced.
- Financial planning specialist. If you have a team (and are not a sole practitioner) there is a good chance someone is the financial planning person. They gather the data, produce plans and may even present the plan unless you as the lead advisor, handle that part of the relationship.
- Investment advisor. In the sole practitioner model and small teams, the lead advisor may be the person who selects investments and prepares proposals. In larger teams there may be a person whose role is to select and monitor the performance of investments. They look at the universe of mutual funds, money managers and ETFs available, then choose the ones that will be the basic building blocks of the portfolio.
- The research department. Your firm has strategists and analysts on the payroll. They have likely won awards. Your research covers equities and fixed income. Your firm may have offices in different financial capitals around the world. You have people on the ground in local markets.
- Insurance or estate planning specialist. The advisor and team members are often licensed to sell insurance, but there is also backup. Insurance is a complicated product area. It ties into estate planning. There is often a person who can visit your office and meet with your client or video conference to explain how a financial planning need is met through insurance.
- Lending specialist. This is often another person at a distance who understands the banking products the firm has available. Mortgages have traditionally been a tricky area because there are documents to submit and review, an appraisal to be done, credit checks to complete and other hurdles before the mortgage is granted. There is usually someone in the complex or region who is a phone call away. They can be brought in to assist.
- Trust officer. Your firm likely has a trust department. They may act as trustee for clients and assist in setting up trusts themselves. This may often involve working with outside estate planning or trust attorneys. They should be in a position to refer a few if the client does not have one already.
- Numerous specialty services. These are too many to list. If you have a client with restricted stock, there is often a Rule 144 specialist who can help. If the client is seeking to setup a foundation or make a complicated charitable donation, there should be a department that can help.
Areas Where Major Firms Don’t Generally Give Advice
You have not dug a moat around the client relationship. You still refer outside the firm in certain instances.
- Accountants. Although the advisor will talk about tax benefits of different investments, advisors at major firms are usually not in the business of preparing and submitting individual tax returns. You might refer trusted CPAs you know.
- Lawyers. Documents like wills should be drawn up between the client and their attorney. Financial services firms usually don’t offer legal advice. You might mention a few attorney names for your client to consider.
- Personal insurance. Many firms are not in the business of writing health insurance, homeowners insurance or auto insurance. This is another situation where you might refer the client to another qualified professional.
When you consider the breadth of advice you can offer through your firm, you realize it is not that far away from one stop shopping.
Related: Everyone Lives by Selling Something