By John P. Schlatter, CFP®
The completeness and accuracy of planning provided to high wealth families is often threatened by a lack of adequate communication. Spouses and families must communicate amongst themselves. But of equal importance is the level and quality of communication that occurs between various members of the family's planning team.
Competent professionals operating in silos
Most affluent families have an existing team of advisors which may include: one or several CPAs, several attorneys, a stock broker, money manager, investment banker, and an insurance provider. There is no shortage of quality counsel. At the same time, most of the family's advisors communicate directly to the client and not necessarily to each other. Consider the family that agrees to execute a particular estate strategy with the help of a top notch attorney, but the planning is done in a vacuum without comprehensive analysis about the strategy's impact on the client's tax or investment situation. The best intentions can create a tremendous disservice when there's a dearth of communication across the various members of a planning team.
No thanks, I've got it all done
Due to the depth of their planning teams, and the longstanding, trusting relationships that are typically in place, many families perceive their affairs to be completely in order. What we often find through further examination is that they are well counseled in several independent arenas, but the sum total of their planning does not flow as cohesively as it could. The result can at best be costly and at worst catastrophic to the family's intentions.
A different take on things
We believe planning done right is approached from a team-based perspective. We believe that at least once each year all of your advisors should meet in the same room to coordinate your affairs.
The results of this approach are both vast and empowering. Consensus comes more easily, both for the family and among the advisory team. Overlapping objectives are uncovered and resolved prior to implementation of strategies. Each advisor gets to operate in his or her area of specialization bringing unique and measurable value to the table.
We suggest speaking with each of your advisors regarding the thoughts presented above. A fresh approach can do wonders to facilitate the momentum and effectiveness of your plan.