Wealth management is a relatively new profession, so it’s not surprising that most people are vague about what wealth managers actually do.
Wealth management addresses a wide range of issues.
A wealth manager can help you with such issues as
- investing a lump sum
- deciding how much you need to save in order to retire comfortably
- estate planning and saving inheritance tax
- dividing up pension entitlements on a divorce or separation
- getting the right types and amounts of life and health insurance
- planning to pay school or university fees
- deciding how much to borrow and
- providing a general financial health check.
These are crucial issues for most people and their families, and it’s very important for a wealth manager, or adviser, to have a thorough understanding of clients’ aims and challenges.
Getting to know you.
Initially the wealth manager and client must get to know each other well enough to decide whether to take the relationship further and the best way for it to work. Either in the initial meeting or soon after, this will involve agreeing the broad content and scope of the service and crucially how much it will all cost. The chemistry will need to be right – as a potential client, you should be asking yourself: do I trust this person and can I work with them? And it’s important to settle the practicalities: does this adviser and the firm have the right expertise and can they provide what I am looking for?
There’s likely to be an enormous amount of information to be gathered together about a person’s financial circumstances: savings, investments, borrowings, property, mortgages and other loans, wills and other documents, pensions, life and health insurances, income and expenditure, tax and much more.
But that’s only the start of this stage in the relationship.
The planner’s job is to find out what the client wants to achieve with their money, both now and in the future. That means gaining a thorough understanding of their views about such issues as borrowing, investing, spending now and in the future, retirement and estate planning. Most people do not think about their future very much – at least not in a very organised way and not from a financial perspective.
Making sense of the information.
The next step in the planning process is to make sense of all this information and come up with a range of preliminary conclusions and initial ideas for ways forward. An important aim of the analysis stage is to identify financial gaps or shortfalls. These could be between income and expenditure now or in the future, pension or insurance provision and several others where some action is needed to bridge the gap between aspiration and reality.
Clarifying your priorities.
You might need to change your goals and aspirations and you may also need to adjust some of your current patterns of behaviour such as spending and saving. A very important issue is clarity about priorities – what might have seemed to be a high priority at the start of the process might have to be replaced by another need. Once these needs and wants have been identified, , it’s time to do some specific product research into funds, tax wrappers – like ISAs – and insurance products.
There’s the planning part of the process, where the end result is a plan of action; and then there’s the implementation, where the outcome is a set of actions that carry out the plan.
Most clients want their adviser to keep an eye on their investments and other financial arrangements; you could, for example, receive periodic valuations, attend meetings or have phone calls on a regular basis, or as and when needed.
The review process is intended to act as a catch up with what has changed –either in your own circumstances or in the financial world generally. Much of the groundwork has already been done earlier, and so the review is likely to be shorter and easier to carry out than the initial meeting and report. But this might not turn out to be the case where there have been some very substantial changes in circumstances like a marriage, divorce or a substantial inheritance.
The DIY option
It is possible to carry out your own wealth management if you have the knowledge, time, patience and self-discipline. But there are good reasons why you probably won’t want to – even if you have all these characteristics.
You may also find it hard to make these big decisions alone.
Contact Sophie-Jane Keelaghan to start your wealth management relationship.
The value of an investment with St. James’s Place will be directly linked to the performance of the funds you select and the value can therefore go down as well as up. You may get back less than you invested. The levels and bases of taxation and reliefs from taxation can change at any time and are generally dependent on individual circumstances.
Representing only St. James’s Place Wealth Management plc (which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority) for the purpose of advising solely on the Group’s wealth management products and services, more details of which are set out on the Group’s website www.sjp.co.uk/products.