Integrated Wealth Management Advice for Affluent Canadian Families: Part 5 – A Different Approach

By Mark Barnicutt on February 21st, 2017

This is my final blog in this series, wherein I will present a solution to the problems presented in the previous posts.

Affluent Families Have a Myriad of Professional Advisors

Over many decades of managing wealth for affluent families, it has been my experience that they each have an individual level of complexity which has evolved over the family’s evolutionary life cycle. Complex structures are needed to address the delicate balance that exists between tax and estate matters, asset protection, and income splitting issues as well as current lifestyle versus longer term succession and philanthropic goals.

To address these subtle and sometimes not so subtle matters, these families have had to surround themselves with a myriad of professional practitioners (such as lawyers, accountants, investment advisors, actuaries, and consultants) to provide the technical expertise in each specific area of their wealth continuum, including estate laws, tax laws, tax accounting, pensions, risk management, and investments.

As a result, it has often been left to the families to try to synthesize the various solutions provided to them; unfortunately, most often they remained unintegrated. Although each piece of advice was technically sound on a stand-alone basis, the advice ended up to be somewhat less than effective as a cohesive solution to support the family’s purpose and journey in life.

As reviewed throughout this series, I don’t believe that these affluent families are best served with the One-Firm-Knows-All approach of large wealth management firms. So, what’s the solution to deliver integrated wealth advice? Affluent families clearly need an answer to this problem!

A Different Approach to the Integration of Wealth Advice for Affluent Families

The short answer is: professional collaboration!

I believe that affluent families’ interests are best served when the truly objective advice of their independent, expert professionals is integrated through a process of collaboration and accountability. 

To ensure that a family’s wealth is sustainable for generations to come, it is critical that effective governance structures be established with specific mandates, and with roles and responsibilities clearly defined for all of those professional advisors who have been charged with a stewardship role for the family wealth.

A Family Wealth Council brings together a designated group of key expert, independent, professional advisors (i.e. accounting/tax, legal, investments, insurance, pensions, etc.) to help affluent families, on a variable, cost-effective basis, make important financial decisions and collaborate to create integrated solutions that address the family’s long-term wealth objectives.

Having facilitated Family Stewardship Councils for many years, our clients have consistently told us that this process makes their lives easier, as all of the important financial decisions that need to be made are done so in a disciplined manner with the appropriate advisors all working together.

In addition, they attain the financial peace of mind that the expert advice that they are receiving is truly objective, transparent, integrated, and solely in their best interests!