Identifying your ideal wealth manager can be a bit like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. There are many wealth managers to choose from and it may be challenging to differentiate among services and approaches. But it’s an important task that’s well worth the time spent.
1. Use Personal Contacts to Identify Candidates
This can be the most effective method to identifying a wealth manager for two reasons. First, your family, friends, and colleagues most likely share a similar life stage and level of wealth with you, so their wealth manager has experience working with people like you. Secondly, you and your personal contacts probably share the same values and, by extension, the wealth manager they use will, too.
You can also ask other professionals, such as your accountant or lawyer. They hear what clients say about financial advisors, and see first-hand how advisors serve their clients, so they can often make good recommendations.
2. Use an Internet Search to Identify Candidates
Below are good websites with robust search tools that can help narrow your search to a handful of advisors who are worth exploring more.
National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) – The majority of advisors in this network are compensated based on a percent of assets under management (AUM). They are generally well-intended advisors with a consultative mindset. They tend to be smaller advisory firms. Approximate total membership: Over 3,000
Financial Planning Association (FPA) Planner Search – All advisors listed in this database have earned the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation, indicating a commitment to and extensive knowledge of the financial planning process. Approximate total membership: 24,000
Garrett Planning Network – Many planners in this network are CFPs and derive at least a portion of their income from hourly consultations. If you seek advice on a specific topic and are comfortable self-implementing recommendations, a member of this network may be a good choice. Be aware, however, that many are also compensated based on a percent of investment dollars managed. Advisors in this network tend to be lower on the experience scale. Total membership: Nearly 250
The White Coat Investor - If you are a physician and interested in self-managing your wealth, this may be the site for you. The excellent and thorough content is tailored to doctors and their needs.
How Many Wealth Managers Should I Identify?
We recommend narrowing your search to three wealth managers who appear to be a good fit. Then, conduct a more in-depth review to ensure their services and approaches meet your specifications. If any or all no longer appear worthy, restart the process and keep going until you identify three solid candidates to contact for further evaluation.