Concepts of the law and financial planning are intrinsically tied to one another. Lawyers often find that they’re in a position to recommend a financial planning firm to their clients, so they need to make sure the recommendation is firmly established, respected and has the expertise to meet the client’s needs.
Some of the reasons lawyers require financial planning services for clients include the increasing complexity and rising costs associated with health care and retirement, as well as the challenges that come with longer life expectancy paired with earlier retirement. There are also direct legal issues ranging from divorce to liquidation of assets.
From estate planning to working with high net worth clients, reasons to build a relationship with a financial planning firm are extensive. That relationship-building element is critical because it allows legal professionals to proactively prepare to help their client tackle any and all financial challenges or objectives they may be facing in a timely, efficient way.
You might also need to find a respected, expert financial professional for your personal needs. According to FA (Financial Advisor) Magazine, lawyers require unique financial experience when it comes to managing their own assets based on their billing structure, income variances and cash-flow scenarios.
So, how do you choose the right financial firm? What are the distinguishing features you should look for? There are the obvious considerations such as education, experience and credentials, but how do you find an adviser who will create value for your clients and you?
Look for a Firm That Emphasizes a Collaborative Approach
A sense of collaboration is something you want to prioritize as a legal professional searching for a financial adviser. You want a firm that is comfortable partnering with legal professionals, integrating all areas of expertise and ultimately delivering financial planning services that are cohesive with the legal scenario of the client.
Along with a collaborative, team-based approach, it’s also essential to look for clear communication which allows for efficiency in how situations are handled.
If there was one piece of advice we have, not just for legal professionals but anyone searching for a financial planning firm, it’s to use a fee-only adviser.
The U.S. Labor Department recently announced the review of a newly enacted fiduciary standard. Under a rule enacted by the Obama administration, brokers were required to offer investment and retirement advice under a fiduciary standard or, in other words, to act in the best interest of their clients. It was enacted in response to worries that too many people saving for retirement were being driven to high-cost investment products that were diminishing their savings.
According to Fortune magazine, the Trump administration is currently accepting public comment as to how to revise the rule and they’re not ruling out the possibility of a future repeal.
Regardless of the future of the federal requirements and changes that may occur, if you work with a fee-only adviser, you get the advantages of objectivity and transparency.
A fee-only firm is not only held to the highest fiduciary and ethical standards, but also doesn’t receive any compensation from any company or particular fund other than the client.
You’ll find that commission-based advisers tend to be more focused on pushing particular products, rather than assessing each scenario objectively and making unbiased recommendations.
Broad Services and Experiences
We’ve found that when legal professionals recommend clients to us, the situation is usually complex. When you’re a legal professional, seek out a financial advisement firm with broad experience and expertise that can be used to solve even multifaceted challenges.
Assess the approach a financial planner takes. For example, does the planning firm take the time to get to know the client, their situation and their personal goals and objectives, before making any recommendations?
Can they approach financial planning in a comprehensive way whether it involves tax planning, business planning, asset management or the preservation of wealth?
Also relevant to consider, is the overall investment philosophy of a firm. Do they value flexibility in decision-making and planning and investment? Do they take a goals-based approach paired with quantifiable methodology? How does the firm and its team handle reevaluation and the need for making changes over time?
All are critical questions to ask.
A Strategic Partnership
As a legal professional, your objective is always working within the framework of your client’s best interest, and that should be the primary focus as you evaluate local financial advisers as well. While the above guide is geared toward selecting a financial planner for your clients, it should also be noted that it serves as an excellent foundation to choose an adviser or planner for your own needs as well.
At TBH Advisors we’re well-versed in creating strong, strategic partnerships with attorneys to cultivate a sense of trust and collaboration that leads to the best outcomes for clients. David J. Singer