You can probably work out what wealth managers’ daily routine are like. There’s research, meeting with clients, analysis and planning. These are all essential parts of our days. But on top of that, we also have intangible stuff – like financial wellbeing. These are hard to measure but, in our view, it’s the stuff that really matters.
Depending on who asks
We all get the same question when we meet people, don’t we? “So what do you do?”
In print, the answer looks harsher than it sounds as the safe and polite conversation opener of real life.
My response depends on who’s asking. In general I say, “I help people make great financial decisions.” But, for business owners it’s, “I help entrepreneurs maximise their wealth and minimise tax.” And, for pre-retirees, it’s about “I help people see their financial future with clarity.”
This is all true, of course. But there’s one thing I tend not to include. This is that I try my utmost, every day, to give people financial wellbeing.
I think it’s best to show, not tell. And when people achieve financial wellbeing, they tend to know, so there’s no need to tell them.
A three-piece suite
First Wealth is a financial planning and wealth management firm. But wealth management is just one of three pieces in a quite simple jigsaw. Planning (including advising and assessing) sits to one side of it; and financial wellbeing to the other.
So, ultimately, I’m a financial planner rather than a pure wealth manager. That’s because I take a holistic view of my clients and their needs. Managing their wealth is an important component. But it’s only possible once my client and I have agreed the goals we’ll manage their wealth towards. And of course, those goals shift from time to time, as circumstances change.
Financial planning is the genesis of it all. This is where we listen to clients, consider their needs, assess their assets and income – now and in future – and devise a plan that knits all these together.
For example, I met a new client the other day. He had a relatively large pool of assets, but comparatively low levels of knowledge about it, with commensurately low levels of confidence in his financial decision making.
If this sounds counterintuitive, it isn’t. It’s a very common scenario – and one I enjoy addressing.
The first task was to find the facts, to listen to his fears and aspirations, and to tease out some goals. The latter involved property ownership but without many specifics.
We’re assessing his options and devising his plan as I write. This means two internal meetings for me with an administrator and an analyst. These will involve cashflow analysis – where we weigh up incomings and outgoings – because it’s fundamental to an understanding of every client case. I’ll also make a courtesy call to the client’s accountant because it’s the right thing to do, and then present our proposed plan back to the client next week.
Once we’ve agreed a viable and realistic way forward, the wealth management phase will kick in.
Wealth managers are all about delivering for clients.
We take an evidence-based approach because, well, what’s the alternative?
All the evidence suggests that you’ll be better off if you invest your money in funds that track the market rather than trying to beat it. There’s no evidence that says an individual portfolio manager can outperform the stock market time and again, without a lot of luck. And we prefer evidence to luck.
I’m at the wealth management stage with another recent client. She’s classed as vulnerable. That’s a term we must use according to the regulations – applying to someone with short or long-term personal circumstances that might open them up to harm – and it means we have a particularly sensitive approach.
Alongside the usual fact find, assessment and goal setting, our conversations involved quite a lot of financial coaching. I find finance endlessly fascinating and – as someone with perhaps fewer years under my belt than some colleagues – helping people understand it is something that gives me tremendous pleasure.
I met this client face-to-face. We almost always meet vulnerable clients on this basis – in their homes – and indeed many others too. But it’s fair to say most client meetings are done remotely, through things like Teams or Zoom. It’s what people prefer these days. And less time in the car also means more time for client planning and managing wealth.
I’m easy with either. I love meeting people, listening to their thoughts about life and money, and then coming up with elegant ways to help them realise those thoughts.
It’s a job that requires empathy, curiosity, arithmetical dexterity, and perseverance. I’ve been doing it for about ten years now and it’s never dull. There’s always a new client with different sort of challenge around the corner.
Peace of mind
I’ve mentioned financial wellbeing a few times, but it’s not just a phrase. It’s a feeling that’s directly reflective of how secure you feel about your money.
It’s something we value highly at First Wealth because, after all, what’s the point of receiving good quality financial planning and wealth management if it doesn’t lead to a strong sense of confidence and comfort?
In fact we get quite scientific about it and, if you’d like to know more, have a free quide to explain it in more detail.
But how do you measure financial wellbeing? How do you quantify a feeling like confidence or happiness?
I won’t lie, it’s hard to put cold metrics onto warm feelings. So all I can say is that when you achieve financial wellbeing, when you feel confident and in control of your finances, you just know.
And that, in brief, is what I do all day, every day. And I absolutely love it.
This document is marketing material for a retail audience and does not constitute advice or recommendations. Past performance is not a guide to future performance and may not be repeated. The value of investments and the income from them may go down as well as up and investors may not get back the amount originally invested.