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Personal Touch Matters: 9 Arguments for Choosing an Independent Financial Service Provider

Posted by : Premraj | Posted on : Tuesday, September 4, 2018

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Families and business owners seeking bespoke financial services providers very often rely on independently owned and operated organizations capable of devoting substantial resources and attention to their unique, ever-evolving needs.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with seeking out a globe-spanning financial services conglomerate, as long as you know what you’re getting yourself into. Before you do, consider the arguments against going with a big fish — and instead, working with a financial services provider that’s as personal and responsive as you expect your own team (or family) to be.

1. Deep International Experience — Not Shallow Networks

It may seem counterintuitive that independent financial firms would offer greater breadth of international exposure for clients with globe-spanning business operations and investment portfolios. But borders matter far less than they used to; even small firms can play with behemoths on the international stage.

Perhaps more importantly, independent firms that specialize in trans-jurisdiction services can draw upon deep wells of experience at the senior level. Larger firms, by contrast, often slough off all but their highest net worth clients to junior staffers with limited international business experience. These staffers may well one day be true international finance experts — but they’re just as likely to earn their future keeps at independent firms that offer bespoke services. Why not wait to work with them until they’re truly ready to deliver the service you expect?

2. On-Demand (or Nearly So) Access

By the same token, independent financial firms offer on-demand access to account managers, advisors, and strategists — who may well be one and the same. Big, impersonal firms tout their accessibility, but it’s not simply a matter of getting someone on the phone at all hours — it’s a matter of getting the right person on the phone when it matters most. Privately-owned firms that specialize in high-touch service excel at this kind of accessibility; if that’s something you value, you know where to turn.

3. Longer, Less Constrained Consultations

We’re all busy, and financial services professionals are no exception. Still, it’s reasonable to expect your provider to be willing and able to engage in full, frank conversations about your changing financial needs — not insist, for example, on teeing up separate meetings for each discrete issue. “Freewheeling” isn’t often associated with the financial services lexicon, but it’s certainly nice to know you can count on wide-ranging conversations when the need arises.

4. Relationship-Oriented Service

If you’re playing the long game with your family or business finances, you want a financial services provider that does the same. There’s nothing wrong with making tactical moves to take advantage of short-term trends or opportunities, provided such activity fits into your broader strategy. But, even if they don’t quite come out and say it, it’s important for clients to understand that many financial services providers do indeed emphasize short-term moves at the expense of longer-term, holistic strategizing. Be wary of firms that promise the moon.

5. Support for Charitable Initiatives

Independently owned firms are far more likely to support local communities in meaningful ways. For that reason, you’re more apt to find an independent firm that aligns with your values than a large, impersonal firm that supports name-brand philanthropies because it can — not because it truly believes in the cause. Look for philanthropic organizations supported largely or in their entirety by bespoke financial services firms — like LARA, a philanthropic project by the family-owned Asiaciti Trust.

6. Advice in Clients’ Best Interests

Not all financial services firms act in their clients’ best interests. Look for firms that honor the fiduciary standard, even if it means lower commissions or fees on their end. Independent firms are far more likely to act as fiduciaries for the same reason that they’re far more likely to support community-oriented initiatives that align with their sincerely held values — because they’re genuinely committed to growing with their clients, not in spite of them.

7. Access to Senior Staff

It bears repeating that smaller financial firms offer far better access and accountability than larger, one-size-fits-all operators. Whereas big firms invariably require clients to work through junior points of contact and escalate needs to senior staff only as necessary, well-run small firms often take the opposite tack — designating a senior staffer as a point person for the relationship and tapping junior-level team members as necessary for specific projects commensurate with their skills and experience.

8. Bespoke Planning and Strategy

You almost certainly have sincerely held ideas about how best to structure, invest, and dispose of your financial and business assets. You deserve to work with a financial professional that accommodates those ideas, even if he or she pushes back when your notions might not align with your long-term interests.

You’re more likely to find a professional who’s willing to endure this give-and-take at an independent service provider that can devote sufficient resources and time to every client who walks through their doors — whether or not that standard requires them to bar those doors from time to time. If you aim to achieve a truly bespoke, custom plan, you’re far more likely to reach your goal with an independent, higher-touch service provider.

9. Opportunities for Greater Specialization

Smaller firms can’t do everything — and that’s okay. Your family or business finances probably don’t require a jack-of-all-trades financial services provider. And, as your needs evolve, you can count on your bespoke service provider to put you in contact with other specialists who can accommodate them. Better to work with a company whose reputation for excellence in a particular segment or segments precedes it — rather than one known simply for getting the job done.

Find Your High-Touch Financial Services Provider Today

Have no illusions: switching financial services providers is no walk in the park, even when your current provider is a form-fitting conglomerate more interested in billable hours than relationship-building.

That’s not an argument in favor of inaction, however. If anything, the fact that switching providers is likely to take time should concentrate your mind and spur you to action. You get a limited number of chances to make the right call about your wealth. The sooner you make the correct one, the longer you’ll have to make up for missed opportunities.

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