Private clients and families wanting wealth advice, typically want holistic wealth advice.
That's why it's worth remembering that investment capital is only one form of capital.
Client fact finding should go well beyond understanding an investment portfolio, to account for other forms of capital - what it is and how it's structured.
What are the other key forms of client capital to consider:
Land: the oldest capital of all, since "they just don't make it anymore" - how is it held, how is it managed. In the UK agricultural yields nose-dived when the US prairies got going and crisis-related spikes aside, have never fully recovered. But "green gold" remains a resilient, and tax-efficient, store of value, and a source of collateral where productive.
Property: principal, residential, and commercial property all require attention and management. Providing a store of value, an income yield and a source of collateral, it's no wonder that bricks and mortar continues to play such an important role in overall wealth. It's all the easiest "immovable" thing to tax. In the UK, taxation for properties has tightened for offshore owners, and now residential buy-to-let properties. Staying on top of the changing tax position is key for any type of property - whether owned for lifestyle or investment.
Business: operating businesses can continue to provide an engine for family wealth. Again how it's owned and managed is key, as well as a picture of its capital intensity and capital requirements. How and whether returns are paid out or re-invested all form part of the broader financial landscape.
Chattels: chattels are subject to their own esoteric tax treatment, and are a source of pleasure as well as a store of value. Inventorying, maintaining and insuring them are the larger headaches, with different experts needed in different fields.
Trust capital: is the client a settlor or beneficiary of discretionary, life interest trust: if so, what are the terms of the trust, who are the trustees, how is it managed, and what is the tax position. Like personal capital, trust capital could simply be an investment portfolio, or itself made up of a mixture of the different types of capital outlined here.
Charitable capital: whether supporting a historic, or creating a new charitable fund or trust, ensuring charitable capital is efficiently managed requires a keen eye on economies of scale. Ensuring it is properly and transparently deployed requires commensurate due diligence.
Human capital: most of all, there's not much point to well-managed wealth if it can't be modeled to suit client objectives and needs - be these material or emotional. After all, you can't take it with you. Balancing this with an intergenerational view and succession plan is probably the hardest part for an adviser.
So whilst there is no shortage of investment portfolio managers to choose from (and selecting, monitoring and reviewing one is another whole challenge), a holistic approach requires much greater scope and a flexible coalition of expertise.
Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.
Additional disclosure: This article has been written for a UK audience. For research purposes/market commentary only, does not constitute an investment recommendation or advice, and should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product. This blog reflects the views of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Elston Consulting, its clients or affiliates. For information on Elston’s research, products and services, please see www.elstonconsulting.co.uk Photo credit: Google Images; Chart credit: N/A; Table credit: N/A
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