Failure to Serve Effectively
The delivery of professional services is at a critical crossroads. Clients are often provided with advice
that fails to be best-in-class and fails to integrate the client's ideas for their best life, lifestyle and
legacy. With business succession and family wealth transfer failure rates at nearly 70% worldwide1,
there is clearly a need to change the process in how professional services are delivered to a client.
Research on the subject of business succession, estate and wealth transfer indicates that the failures
are not due to governing law or tax systems but rather because our future generations are not being
adequately prepared for these inevitable events. In addition, the general professional community has
failed to develop an effective way to discover what matters most to their clients prior to offering their
The professional community has now transitioned into an era of independent specialists working
separately on behalf of clients. That is unfortunate. While specialization is beneficial, it leaves out the
bigger picture issues of a client's dreams and purpose. It is rare in today's advisory environment to
find professionals who collaborate together on the dynamic solutions critical to helping clients achieve
the kinds of lives they have always dreamed about having.
This results in "piecemeal planning," which might provide a client with an accurate legal or tax
structure, but ignores a greater and more important question: how does this fit together in the
client's life and for the client's greatest benefit? All too often the opportunity for the best in
effective planning is lost simply because the client has no fundamental understanding of where the
actual solutions best fit into the whole of his/her life.
Collaboration is the Solution
As an independent advisor, this firm understands the benefits that are realized by employing a
professional collaborative approach to planning. It has been proven over and over that the very best
solutions for our clients are created by a professional team effort. Once a client's goals, wishes,
dreams and their desired lifestyle needs are understood, all future planning is truly dynamic. The
client's situation can then be analyzed by each team Member from his/her unique experience and
expertise while keeping in mind the (client defined) best outcome. What results is a dynamic final plan
that appropriately incorporates all professional recommendations and best meets the client's goals,
objectives and lifestyle.
The real beauty of building strategic alliances for professional solutions is that existing advisory
relationships do not necessarily need to be severed. If, for example, a client has a long standing
association with a tax or legal professional, that relationship is honored and that professional is invited
to be a part of the planning team. However, what must never be compromised is our planning focus
to provide "best in class" solutions for the client. Therefore, it must be noted that fundamental to this
process is that any professional serving the client not only gives their very best effort, but they must
be willing to allow other professionals more qualified in different planning areas to make their
recommendations as well. "Professional ego" is not welcomed nor is it effective for the client.
All team members working together with defined goals will always achieve the best outcome possible
for the client whom they serve.
The Planning Process
Planning from this counseling perspective requires a clear understanding of client goals and
objectives. The process should begin with an in-depth audit of the client's current situation and a look
at upcoming events and potential threats. A known inheritance or major tax event or, perhaps, upcoming
educational expenses for children are examples. Reviewing prior generations and exploring
issues that may affect future family generations may also impact the planning that is underway. It is
always important that legacy and lifestyle planning be included to ensure that family values and
wisdom are conveyed to future generations.
Once all the information is gathered and documented, a coaching model is created to understand
what matters most to each individual involved, including all immediate family members and any
business partners. Client education is also often employed and may include workshops, books and
The next step is to put in writing a clear picture of the client's goals, objectives and lifestyle needs.
After review, these are approved and committed to by the client and the professional team. The
collaborative process to fashion an effective plan design now begins. This is when professional
collaboration shines on behalf of the client and the best possible solutions encased in a well thought
out and effective plan structure are presented.
After the plan design receives client approval, the individual team professionals begin creating the
appropriate documentation and arrange the steps for implementation. When these are complete, the
client implements the plan solutions with the respective team members and any identified outside
providers. The final step is then put into place: a well-defined maintenance plan to ensure the proper
operation of each solution. This includes on-going education and guidance if changes to the
economy, tax law or even client objectives were to occur.
Professional Collaborative Teams
A professional collaborative team which works for your benefit in a strategic alliance will include some
or all the following members. (Not in any particular order of leadership)
- Tax Planner
- Estate Planner
- Financial Planner
- Investment Advisor
- Insurance Professional
- Asset Protection Specialist
- Family Psychologist
- Lifestyle Planner
- & other professionals from specialized fields as required.
The critical key to successful collaboration and providing clients with the best outcome is the creation
of timelines, personnel charts, and accountability models that keep all planning, all advisors and the
client on schedule.
It is also important to note that some professionals will offer services in several of the areas listed. It is
our position that overlapping services should be limited and that the choices for those overlaps must
be left to the client. This eliminates the potential for conflicts of interest.
Independent collaborative advisors working together towards a common goal provides best-in-class
solutions to complex estate, wealth, tax, business, and family issues. Through effective
implementation of professional advice, under the guidance of one key advisor, our clients are given
the best possible chance at living the life they've always dreamed of achieving while passing on their
legacy to future generations.