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What Is Wealth Management?

The words themselves seem pretty straightforward right? However, the implications are a bit more complicated when you think about it a bit more deeply.
A clear and basic definition of wealth management might sound something like this:

The complete consultative process of learning about and meeting the needs of clients who possess significant material wealth and using that understanding to develop strategies, the coordination of select experts, and the utilization of the wealth management products in order to increase, protect, and/or distribute one’s wealth.

The arrangement of your assets and estate to minimise exposure and risk after death. Good estate planning will structure your estate in the most tax efficient way.
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Wealth management can mean different things depending on the perspective at which you are approaching it.

For the client/individual who possesses considerable material wealth, wealth management is the science, service and process by which one solves and increases his or her financial situation. This individual employs the assistance of a financial adviser to assess their financial situation after which they will devise a strategy to manage it, ultimately resulting in a better financial situation than the one with which they started.

From a financial advisor’s perspective wealth management is the ability to evaluate and form an understanding as to a client’s financial situation.

Once the situation is understood, they will utilize a full range of financial services and products putting in place a plan of action that works to improve the finances of the individual whose wealth they are managing. From here they consult with their client to deliver their suggestions and procedures. From the perspective of the financial advisor, their role in wealth management is consultative. The entire process revolves around the client, their objectives and desired outcomes. Their aim is to clearly understand the needs of the person they are dealing with and find out essential facts and figures and other important issues. When a wealth manager understands everything they need to know about the client in order to make informed decisions, they can then begin to make plans and recommendations. This might involve consultation with other experts and the use of other financial products to bring about the desired outcome.

Frequently Asked Questions

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01. What is wealth management?
Wealth management services can provide advice on where to invest your money and/or invest money on your behalf with a view to making profit. Investments may vary in risk and return depending on how they are held, whether it be in cash deposits, equities such as stocks and shares, government and/or corporate bonds or as a variety of alternative type investments. Wealth managers are professional companies, and are qualified in managing people’s wealth. In the UK wealth managers must be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
02. What is asset allocation?
Asset allocation is the process of dividing up and sharing your investment between different assets, be it cash, bonds, shares, and property. The idea behind doing this is that it helps spread risk through diversification. In other words, by not putting all your eggs in one basket and if one investment underperforms it can be made up for elsewhere.
03. What is diversification?
If you diversify your investments, this means you invest in a variety of assets that perform differently from each other. Each asset type relates to the others in some way or another whether they have little or no relation to each other (low correlation), or they are inversely connected, ie: they act in opposition to each other (negative correlation). Some highly correlated investments can move up and down together.
04. Should I Seek financial advice?
Experienced investors often make their own decisions but doing so requires a lot of research, time, knowledge and possible risk. By taking financial advice, you will be able to talk through all the possible issues that might arise and ensure, with the help of an expert, that your investments are made exactly to your requirements. An expert wealth manager will have all the most up to date knowledge of the available products available and really are the best place to go to get investment advice.
05. What is capital risk?
You must understand investment risk before investing your wealth as all types of investment involve an element of uncertainty and unpredictability. In the worst case scenario, you won't get back the money you invested (or some of it anyway). This is known as capital risk. However, there are safeguards in place meaning that should if you stick with cash investments and spread it between banks, you are protected. On the other hand, if you invest your money in the stock market, there is a real risk to your capital almost constantly. If your investments perform badly, you could lose even more than you put in.
06. What are the other risks?
With any investment you make, it can be difficult to be completely certain what return you will receive when you finally cash it in. Share prices and interest rates fluctuate and inflation is a risk also. Having concerns over this and also worries over capital risk (losing your investment due to mishandling or fraud), can mean you take a cautious approach to investment. However, understanding risk involves identifying your own attitude towards it and understanding the different types of risk after which your wealth management advisor can assist in minimising the chances of things going wrong. Each of the four asset classes (cash, bonds, property and shares) each have separate kinds of risks associated with them. Cash is low risk but provides the lowest returns. Shares, or stocks/equities, are considered the riskiest asset class, as stock markets can be unpredictable. Some markets are considered riskier than others.

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Your Assets

When your assets reach a certain level it can be hard to keep tabs on absolutely everything and managing your finances can become a job in itself. Possessing huge sums of physical cash is not a sensible form of managing your finances and in any case, it can be unsafe and highly inefficient. It might be wise to make your money work harder through investments, in turn seeing the numbers increase over time. However, managing a number of different and varied investments yourself is time-consuming, even if you know what you are doing.
For this reason, many such individuals seek the assistance of a wealth manager, so that they can oversee their assets as a whole. A lot of independent financial advisers specialise in wealth management. Not only do they save you a lot of time and effort, they can help you make wiser decisions, have access to the best products, ensure that your wealth and assets remain within your desired limits, and ensure that it fulfils its potential.

Here is a list of the main areas in which a wealth manager will provide ongoing support.

Savings and Investments

Your wealth manager will help you find the best combination of cash savings and other investments. They will base your investments on factors such as your life’s ambitions, your aversion/or assimilation to risk, and other personal circumstances. They will help you find the right balance between capitalising on your investments and maintaining an optimum level of accessible funds. As your assets grow and/or your circumstances change, your adviser will reassemble your investments to reflect your new situation, keeping it aligned with your needs.

If you decide to change things about every now and then, for example, if you want to invest in property, they will advise you on how to go about this without jeopardising your established growth and onward goals. Your adviser will assist you to create an investment strategy to suit your needs.

Pensions

As a higher earner, your pension/s will make up a large section of your overall financial plan. Your advisor might know ways in which you can benefit from higher or additional rate tax relief. They might also advise you on supplementing any workplace pensions with your own private arrangements. Your wealth manager can advise you of several ways on how to maximise the advantages of your pension.
If you are vulnerable to both the annual and lifetime pension allowances, your adviser can ensure that you do not inadvertently exceed these limits, saving you a massive tax bill. In a nutshell, your wealth management adviser can advise you on how to save money regarding pension issues.

Business

If you run a business you may already use an accountant to advise you on finances and taxes and the like. Your wealth manager can work alongside your accountant in order to maximise the value generated for you, and vice versa. For example, they might advise you how to claim your own income in the most efficient way, separate personal and business assets, and invest business assets effectively. They can also offer ongoing advice on cash flow and budgeting.

Tax Efficiency

If you only spend part of your time in the UK and the other part of it abroad, it could very well affect how much income tax you have to pay. A wealth manager will know all the ins and outs of the rules concerning expatriate taxes. They will help you work out how much tax you owe in whichever country you have lived and worked, ensuring you do not pay more than you have to.

Wealth management experts are also experts in UK taxes. They can advise you on your tax status and how to maintain it. They will explain the financial differences between residing in the UK and living abroad.

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Estate Planning

If you have a lot of assets you will naturally be concerned what will happen to them when you die. Leaving an inheritance can be an issue when there is a lot to leave. Although a wealth manager will help you plan ahead and reduce the final inheritance tax bill, a large estate needs working on several years in advance. A wealth manager will be invaluable in this respect as they can begin reducing the size of your taxable estate in a highly strategic way whilst you maintain sufficient funds to maintain your lifestyle.

The earlier you consider planning your estate the better chance you have at utilising all of the tax opportunities available to you. Your wealth manager should always provide advice based on the most up to date knowledge of tax law. It is their job to make sure you are able to take full advantage of the exemptions and reliefs on offer in order to mitigate any tax bill. This means maximising the inheritance to your beneficiaries rather than the Government.

It may be the case that you have assets located in different countries. This means that your wealth manager will have to consider the rules of each jurisdiction. They will work with advisers, lawyers and other off-shore tax specialists in order to ensure compliance with the effects of multi-jurisdictional dispositions.

Other countries have very different rules to the UK that can affect:

  • Who will inherit your wealth
  • The amount of tax your heirs will pay
  • When and where your legacy goes

Many European countries have something known as ‘forced heirship’ as part of their laws on succession. If you live in Spain, France, Portugal, Malta or Cyprus, your wealth may be automatically divided between your spouse and children. This happens regardless of what your will says. Such laws even partly apply in Scotland. UK nationals however, may be able to override this rule through ‘Brussels IV’: the European Certificate of Succession regulation. This law lets you apply British law to your estate though you should seek advice to establish if this is the right approach for you specifically and if there would be any implications for you and your heirs. This is particularly relevant if you live or have property in France.
There is a chance you may also still be liable for UK inheritance tax without realising it though with careful planning, you can have peace of mind that your legacy will be distributed as you wish and in a way that ensures your heirs don’t pay more tax than absolutely necessary.

In the UK, estate planning generally starts with the writing of a will and may include the use of a trust. When you move or own assets abroad, however, things are much more complicated.

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The Costs Of A Wealth Manager

Once you employ the services of a wealth manager you embark upon an ongoing relationship. You will usually be required to pay your adviser a retainer for their services which could be a regular flat fee, or a percentage of the assets under their management. Sometimes this can work out more economical than paying several different fund managers to manage multiple portfolios.

Ask your potential managers about payment options when you first meet with them. Ask them to state their fees explicitly and to explain in detail what you get for that price. Also, compare several quotes. Always shop around for as many quotes as you can and compare all costs and services.

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