Wealth Management Takes Teamwork

Highlights

  • Wealth management requires expertise in a variety of disciplines, including portfolio management, law, accounting, wealth preservation, business planning, and charitable giving.

  • Investors and their families will benefit from a wider range of advice and services that’s focused on navigating the increasingly complex challenges in wealth management.

  • Lawyers, tax experts and investment advisors need to work collaboratively to manage wealth in an efficient, coordinated and cost -effective manner.

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” –Helen Keller”

The hurdles that stand in the way of achieving financial security, peace of mind and personal fulfillment can be daunting.  Asset allocation, cash flow management, tax planning, and estate planning are just a few of the topics that require knowledgeable guidance from advisors who have considerable expertise in a variety of disciplines, including portfolio management, the law, accounting, portfolio management, wealth preservation, business planning, and charitable giving. 

The effective transfer of assets from one generation to the next, for example, is a critical component of wealth management.  Wealth transfer can trigger a number of issues, including the management of business interests, the disposition of an estate, the management of family trusts, the implementation of philanthropic desires, and continuity of family governance.  Complicating matters is the fact that in some cases younger family members do not always have the skills or motivation to preserve inherited wealth.  As a result, family wealth – absent informed counsel — can quickly dissipate after it passes from one generation to the next. 

The wide range of advice and services required to manage wealth in today’s complex world requires a team approach for advice.  To address this need, some ultra-high net worth families establish private family offices that employ experts in several fields.  However, the very high cost of operating a family office makes these organizations impractical for most individuals and families.[1] 

Most of us obtain legal advice from a lawyer, tax advice from an accountant and investment advice from a financial advisor.  Typically, these advisors work independently of one another, which in turn can result in conflicting advice, lost opportunities and inefficiencies that hinder individual and family achievement.

An additional complication: the need for coordinated advice grows as family wealth grows.  For families with assets in excess of $5 million (give or take), working with multiple independent advisors may be less than ideal.  Rather, a well-coordinated, collaborative effort by a team of experienced advisors is needed to grow, protect and preserve family wealth. 

There are a number of benefits that can come from having all of your advisors under one roof, including:

  • Teamwork between your advisors is encouraged.
  • The members of your team of advisors share a common understanding of your and your family’s needs and aspirations.
  • The risk of conflicting advice is greatly reduced or eliminated.
  • Communication and collaboration between team members is facilitated.
  • Meetings between you and team members can be held at their common office.

Recognizing these advantages, some professional firms provide a range of services that are comparable to those provided by family offices — at a much lower expense.  However, only law firms are permitted to offer legal advice.  As a result, a professional services team be the best option.  For instance, The Milwaukee Company and Willms-O’Leary, S.C. have teamed up to provide a suite of services that we refer to as a “Support Stack”.[2]

As the name implies, the objective of the Support Stack is to provide clients with a broad range of services that can help ensure their and their families’ futures are secure, and to establish a legacy that provides for loved ones and favorite charitable causes.

More specifically, The Support Stack encompasses a variety of disciplines, including personal and trust investment management, income tax planning and return preparation, business planning, long-term care planning, charitable giving, estate planning, and trust and estate administration.[3]

To maximize life’s opportunities and overcome life’s challenges, families need advice from a team of talented professionals with expertise in numerous disciplines.  It is critical that the advice given is coordinated and takes into account all facets of the family’s wealth.  Lawyers, tax experts and investment advisors serving a family need to work collaboratively to address all of these areas in an efficient, coordinated and cost-effective manner. 

Thank you for reading.

The Market Commentator

[1] The cost to operate even a small, single family office typically starts at a million dollars and goes up from there.  And while participating in a multi-family office is a somewhat less-costly alternative, many restrict membership to families who have assets of $20 million or more, and charge a management fee on those assets of 1% or more.

[2] The Milwaukee Company is affiliated with Willms-O’Leary, S.C. but are independent firms with separate ownership. 

[3] Willms-O’Leary is not a registered investment advisory firm and does not provide investment advice.  The Milwaukee Company does not provide legal services, and communications with The Milwaukee Company are not covered by the attorney-client privilege.

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