In my last article, I stated that a great financial team includes a wealth manager, CPA and estate attorney. The reason you need this team is because success in business does not necessarily equate to success in wealth. Even those who earn a high income may not achieve their wealth goals unless they have the right team guiding them.

I recommend that you think of yourself as the general manager of a football franchise destined for greatness. Your role, as general manager, is to build and guide this team toward your ultimate goals. Every general manager knows they need a franchise quarterback, receivers and powerful running backs. In this article I’d like to recommend practical steps for building a high-performance financial team.

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"I enjoy serving multi-generational families because I value trust and discretion. They often have very complex financial lives and multi-generational stakeholders who see things in different ways. I find satisfaction in leading a team of advisors in a united effort to serve these families exceptionally well."


Pick Your Quarterback First

Why should you do this? NFL teams pick a franchise quarterback first and then build the rest of the team around them. When a quarterback has a team that plays to their strengths, the entire team performs better.

Quarterbacks can help lead the team and meld them together like a finely tuned offense. A quarterback is the catalyst to guide the team, make plays, pull everyone together and provide the right leadership in big moments that can be game-changers.

Of course, from my perspective, the wealth manager should be the quarterback. Why do I say this? Typically the wealth manager knows the most about your unique situation. This is certainly true among our clients at Whitnell today. When we surveyed several of our clients a while back, they said that “being known” by their Whitnell wealth manager was a major reason they’ve remained a client for many years.

At Whitnell, we take a comprehensive approach to financial planning. This approach provides us deep knowledge of your unique situation including your investment portfolio and goals, your retirement goals, tax picture, estate plan, assets that need to be protected and other areas.

Because we have this deep knowledge of our clients, we can serve you as an advocate and as an ambassador to the rest of the financial team. It is very common, among powerful and creative professional advisors, for a variety of ideas to come forth from meetings. But someone needs to take responsibility to vet those ideas against your goals. I believe the wealth manager is in the best position to make this analysis because of their deep knowledge of you.

Wealth managers usually have a good working knowledge of how other team members contribute to your success. While they may not be the experts in matters such as estate planning, tax mitigation, assets protection and other topics, they do usually understand the importance of these areas and know how to bring those experts to the table.

In the football world, a quarterback is a key player. But the quarterback rarely scores without other players, such as receivers and running backs. In the same way, a wealth manager who serves as a quarterback relies on other key players to create the most successful outcome. 


Foster A Healthy Relationship Between Your Wealth Manager And CPA

The first step in this process is to provide formal introductions between the two. This can be done electronically, via email, but it probably makes sense to get together with the two in the room. Why should you do this?

Your ultimate goal is to produce a high-performance team. Most general managers know that for their team to perform at a high level, they need to set expectations about how team members should work together. When the general manager sets the tone, the team will usually follow.

We recognize that most affluent individuals have productive working relationships with their current CPA. If that is the case, the wealth manager and CPA can get straight to work on building a great financial plan. The knowledge the CPA has of your tax situation will be invaluable to this plan. If this is not the case, the wealth manager can search for and possibly recommend a CPA who would be a great fit for your goals and the team. 


Foster A Healthy Relationship Between Your Wealth Manager, CPA And Estate Attorney

Usually the first step the wealth manager and CPA will take is to assess your financial goals and plan. Next they will often identify an initial game plan and key next steps. Usually this will include some level of review of your estate plan.

In situations where a complex estate is evident, the wealth manager and CPA may recommend an update to your estate plan. In these instances, the wealth manager and CPA will usually discover whether or not you have an existing relationship with an estate planning attorney. If you do not have this relationship, most wealth managers can recommend the right expert.

In these instances, the wealth manager can serve to explicate your financial situation, assets and desires as a starting point to the estate plan. The wealth manager can serve as your advocate. This benefits you in two ways.

  1. It saves you a lot of time from having to explain your situation and gather documents for the estate attorney. 
  2. It gives you the comfort of knowing that a financial professional is providing key input to the estate planning process. 


Final Thoughts

At Whitnell, our goal as wealth managers is to provide the comprehensive approach to wealth building that I’ve described here. If you are an existing Whitnell client, it is likely you’ve realized the comfort of knowing your financial quarterback is watching over all of your interests and guiding the team.

If you know of friends, family members or other people you care about who are not experiencing this comfort, it could greatly benefit them to have a conversation with me.


The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only. No illustration or content in it should be construed as a substitute for informed professional tax, legal, and/or financial advice.