A Guide to Wealth Management

Wealth management is one of those concepts that many people have heard of but few really understand. The idea of anyone managing your wealth or the thought that you might even have sufficient wealth to require managing tend to discourage the average person from dwelling on it for very long. Surely wealth management is just for multi-millionaires.

Wealth management may well have originated to meet the demands of high net worth individuals, but the industry has matured and the financial landscape has changed in recent years. Wealth management has become a service that many more people are now considering.

In this guide, we’re going to look at what wealth management is and how best to choose a wealth manager that works for you.

What is Wealth Management?

It is possible to break wealth management down into two interwoven disciplines; investment management and financial planning. If you have any savings or investments, for example, shares, pensions or property, you don't have to be mega-rich to benefit from the advice of an expert in maximising your income streams. A wealth manager will be able to take a holistic view of your finances, where previously you may only have considered them as a collection of discrete instruments. Through a combination of planning and investment strategies, they will be able to suggest ways of restructuring your financial provisions not only to sustain but also to increase your wealth.

It is a specialist skill which requires an exhaustive knowledge of both current movements in the money markets and also the range of available financial products. These are constantly being revised and developed by innovators to take advantage of the complexity of global finance. It certainly involves introducing tax efficiencies into your affairs particularly given the labyrinthine nature of the UK's tax regime and the offshore opportunities that exist. And this is not about avoiding paying your fair share of tax, it is about ensuring that you are not being over-taxed simply by having poorly configured investments and inefficient savings arrangements.

Wealth management goes much further than tax matters, however, and encompasses the efficient and flexible deployment of assets within markets to take advantage of different types of investment, rates of return, risk levels and financial instruments. A wealth manager provides entirely independent advice so that you can be sure that your interests are the only priority and will prepare an investment portfolio designed specifically to meet such essential matters as your current needs, your future plans, and your retirement expectations. 

At every stage, your manager will make sure you understand fully the implications of each measure suggested, the pros and cons, the certainties and the imponderables. Trust and accountability are built into the relationship and you can expect to benefit from years of expertise.

How to Choose a Wealth Manager

Now that, with any luck, you have become more receptive to the idea that wealth management is not solely for the wealthiest one percent of the population, it is worth considering the next step. How do you decide on the right manager for you?

As in most areas of life, there is a lot to be said for recommendation. A wealth manager's reputation is extremely valuable because the relationship is generally a very long term one, so track record and length of service to clients matter. You may have had dealings with someone who works in the financial industry and can point you in the direction of an appropriate professional, or you may have friends or family members whose own finances have been put into a healthy condition by someone to whom they are happy to refer you.

If you cannot rely on personal recommendation then you will need to carry out some of your own due diligence and research, which should be fairly easy to do online. A reputable wealth manager will be very transparent about their operation, offering details of professional accreditations and providing access to testimonials which are the next best thing to personal recommendations. A wealth manager who is difficult to assess through online resources may not necessarily have anything to hide, but you don't have time to spend teasing out details when others will be entirely upfront.

Never forget to check that they are authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Not only does this guarantee their professionalism, but it also affords you certain consumer protections that are administered by the authority. 

Don't underestimate the importance of meeting face to face: although the relationship will be a professional one it is also a very personal service and you need to feel entirely comfortable dealing with someone who is going to play such a significant part in your financial well-being. It's also advisable to meet them at their office, not because you want to see their swanky premises but because it will help you form an impression of the size and professionalism of the operation.

Wealth management is something that everyone with significant savings or assets should consider. Personal finance options may sound complex, but that's exactly why you should appoint a professional with the skills to steer you through the uncertain waters towards financial security.