More wealth firms are trying to be all things to everyone. After first offering investment management and financial planning, firms now want to prepare your taxes, prepare your estate plan, sell you insurance, administer the retirement plan for your small business, and on and on. For clients, it is an attractive proposition that appeals to convenience.  You can deal with one person who will arrange all the relevant professionals to play their assigned role.  But what are the downsides for clients?


For a single fee, you get access to all the professionals and a conversation about your needs.  Often missing is what fees don’t cover. If you need to create or update your estate plan, you will pay extra for drafting documents.  You will pay extra for preparing taxes.  And insurance coverage only starts when premiums are collected. Your all-in fees don’t cover everything.

The right match

Perhaps you need to update your estate plan.  You met your team briefly when the relationship began, but you haven’t interacted since.  As you start work with the estate planner, you may find you get along well, or you may not.  You could discover your insurance needs are beyond the experience levels of the assigned person.  You might sense your tax planner is too deferential to your senior advisor on matters of importance to you.  Can you get more relatable, experienced, and independently minded replacements to serve you?  Or are you stuck with the team assigned to you.

Conflicting duties

We are all held responsible to someone. CEOs are answerable to their Boards. Politicians are accountable to their voters.  If an advisor is a fiduciary, putting clients first is literally the law.  When you hire a wealth firm that does everything, the professionals serving you work for and are loyal to the organization providing their paycheck. If they are part of a preassigned team at an integrated wealth management firm, their priority is the firm.  If advice from the lawyer conflicts with the senior advisor, is the final answer made with you in mind?

We don’t want to be a one-stop-shop.  

No company can be the best at everything.  You can do anything well, but you can’t do everything well. Trying to do too much can degrade overall performance, service, and client experience, especially in high-touch professional services firms. Think of a business owner who has been working with a corporate attorney for twenty years. When he needs help with a lawsuit, does he want his attorney to pull in the lawyer down the hall back at the firm?  Or does he want an introduction to the most experienced and talented litigator he can afford to help address his problem?

Imagine you are a client of an advisor who brings in third-party specialists as needed, providing multiple options of trusted professionals in the skill sets you need. You interview each, select one, and write the check for services performed. You are their client, not the wealth firm. You can direct your team to work together, knowing full well they are working to prioritize your benefit. If conflicts arise requiring choices that could benefit the firm over you, decisions must prioritize you. It becomes quickly transparent if one advisor isn’t acting in your best interest. Regardless of the business model you choose, be sure you understand the incentives in play, and receive appropriate value for your fees.