Wealth Management: What Does It Mean, and Is It for You?

The term “wealth management” gets tossed around quite a bit in financial circles, but what exactly does it mean? And how do you know if wealth management is right for your financial situation?

Defining wealth management
Think of wealth management as a house that’s custom-built for each client, whether that’s an individual, a family, or an organization. The purpose of this structure is to preserve, protect, and nurture your assets. And just like when you build a home, you rely on a team of specialists who work collaboratively to understand your needs. Together, this team designs and constructs a strategy that’s built to last.

A wealth management team works with you to understand your particular needs and aspirations. Then, these advisors recommend the best investment management and financial planning strategies to help you reach your personal and financial goals.

What wealth managers do
A wealth management team designs and executes a holistic plan customized to a client’s unique financial needs and goals. At Bartlett, this approach includes two major services:

  • Financial planning based on your objectives, your charitable giving priorities, your retirement timetable, and the many other personal and financial priorities that shape your aspirations.
  • Investment management of securities and assets, such as stocks, bonds, alternative investments, exchange traded funds (ETFs), and mutual funds.

Beyond investing assets and anticipating future needs, your advisor serves as your financial advocate. With a solid wealth management team at your side, you will have a good sense of where your money is invested, the performance of your investments, and how your portfolio is helping achieve your financial goals. As major life changes happen—births, college, retirement, inheritance, divorce, etc.—you can turn to your wealth management team to help you navigate complex financial scenarios.

Choosing a wealth management team
The thought of searching for a wealth manager can be an overwhelming one. A few simple tips can give you the confidence you need to ask the right questions and find an advisor who is a good fit for you.

  • If you feel you need detailed advice from several different specialists—for example, if you own your own business—consider whether you might benefit from having someone who can coordinate your team of advisors. A wealth management team can connect you to other professionals who can help with specific aspects of your finances, such as accounting, tax and/or estate planning, insurance, and more.
  • If you already have a team of professionals in place, your wealth management advisor can act as the project manager to ensure all team members are sharing information and developing a cohesive plan to meet your needs.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re not clear on what’s being presented to you. Your advisor should explain details in a way you understand. You’re not being rude; you’re simply trying to prevent misunderstandings that could backfire later.
  • Don’t let yourself be pressured into making a financial decision you’re not comfortable with or don’t understand. This is your money, and you have the right to take whatever time you need. However, give yourself a deadline for your decision so you don’t get caught in “analysis paralysis.”
  • Your plans should take into consideration your investing goals, your time horizon for achieving each one, your current financial and emotional ability to tolerate risk, and any recent changes in your circumstances.
  • Find out how the firm is compensated for services. Some, like Bartlett, are fee-based and have access to an unlimited universe of investment options to best fit your individual circumstances. Some receive a commission from a third party for any products you may purchase. Others may receive some combination of fees and commissions. Don’t be reluctant to ask about fees; any reputable financial professional shouldn’t hesitate to explain how he or she is compensated and how you will be charged for the services provided.

If you feel that choosing a wealth management firm might be helpful, don’t postpone making that call. The sooner you get your questions answered, the sooner you’ll be able to pay more attention to the things—family, friends, career, hobbies—that an organized financial life can help you enjoy.