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What is a Trusted Adviser and How Do You Pick the Right One?


A trusted adviser is something most people need and what many people want to be. Choosing the right one for you and your family can be a minefield however, especially for HNWIs who often find they are surrounded by numerous ‘advisers’. So who do you pick to be ‘the one’?

First off, if you want more than one you can of course to choose to have more, but be wary that this may create confusion. Having that person you really trust, the ‘professional marriage’ that can often last a lifetime, can be priceless.

The trusted adviser is someone who has a seat at the table on the same side as the client, not opposite. They are part of the inner circle, often acting as a bridge between the family and the circle of other advisers. A strategic partner who is an asset to the family and whose paramount responsibility is helping the client reach their end goals.

It’s also important to realise what a trusted adviser isn’t. So importantly they are not:

> A temporary solution

> Self-focussed

> Superficial

> A ‘yes man’

So what is a trusted adviser?

> You need a person who is in it for the long haul. This is a relationship that needs to last, and that’s something both sides should consider. It is a marriage of sorts, you will have your disagreements, your highs and lows but ultimately it is a working partnership.

> It is someone that puts a client’s interests above their own. It could be lucrative for this trusted person to advise a client to set up certain structures and generate fees for running them. But this may not be in a client’s best interests, so they take the lower fee and streamline matters for the client.

> They say ‘no’ to you. This can be one of the most important points of all. You need someone who isn’t afraid to challenge ‘the boss’. A client may not want to hear it, but they may need to hear it. We all need reigning in sometimes, and a trusted adviser is someone who can ‘manage up’ as well as down and stop a client from making a mistake because others are too afraid to step up.

> They give a client options – at the end of the day it is the client that decides, and a trusted adviser that compiles a sensible and structured set of options is highly valuable.

The world is becoming increasingly complex, especially for HNWIs with multiple residencies and various global assets. There are many factors from tax, to estate planning, to insurance cover to reporting requirements and more that need to be considered. Clients often need a concise summary of what is going on and solutions that will work for them, their family and their business. This is the job of the trusted adviser, to take all the professional advice and discuss it in a constructive manner with the client. This way they don’t tell you what to do but let you decide based on facts and a selection of carefully crafted solutions.

> They have integrity and are reliable – they are on time for meetings and calls, and when they say they are going to do something they deliver.

> You share a personal connection and build rapport. There is an emotional connection, they aren’t the lawyer or the tax adviser doing all the planning, they are the ones that understand and relate to you as an individual, who knows when something is emotionally more important than financially critical to you. It may seem strange, but often we tell our trusted adviser things we don’t even tell our spouse. It’s the unique combination of likeability combined with the objectivity of the adviser role that makes it such a key relationship.

> A trusted adviser is generous and shares their knowledge with you. Sharing knowledge leads to more debate, more ideas and more projects.

> They are their authentic selves. They don’t pretend to be something else, and if they do, pretty soon they won’t be your trusted adviser. After all it’s a relationship built on trust, and for that you need openness and honesty.

How do I pick ‘the one’?

The close friend:

For some people their trusted adviser is a long standing friend, perhaps even a business associate. They know this person well and they trust their judgement. For others it may be their family lawyer or tax adviser. These are people of standing in their lives.

However, these people still need support. Back to point 4, the effects of globalisation and the increasing complexities of life itself mean that often these traditional figureheads need some external professional support to tackle the various complex issues at hand.

Enter the professional private office adviser, the ‘expert generalist’ who assumes either the direct relationship as trusted adviser or as a support crutch to the existing one. Every client is different, so is their set up, and for those that already have that one person acting as their ‘spokesperson’, the professional service provider can help support them by collating the advice and giving them the network they need to ensure the client’s needs are met.

The professional provider:

Alternatively, and an option that is increasingly popular, HNWIs seek advice and guidance from professional private office advisers directly. This is different from the multiple family office or the single family office. Many HNWIs are setting up a ‘virtual private office’ for many reasons, including flexibility and reduced costs. Other benefits include access to a global book of contacts, guidance and solutions provided by their private office representative who becomes their trusted adviser for both personal and corporate matters.

I want a professional provider to become my trusted adviser, how do I choose which is best?

It comes down to personal choice, but ultimately factors that you may wish to consider as part of your selection process:

> The global provider – if you have assets in multiple jurisdictions, multiple residencies or are seeking to expand your footprint, you want someone that is truly global. Many firms say that they are this but then might only have five offices concentrated in just two regions. A truly global firm can span east to west.

> A proven track record – someone who has just set up in business probably isn’t going to have the global footprint you want and will be busy making a name for themselves, so your needs could take a back seat to business development.

> A name you can trust, with a good reputation and reference – you may want to go with a firm that is listed and at the very least a regulated provider. This means the firm has had to adhere to a strict set of requirements themselves, there is proper oversight of what they do, and as such it means they know how to provide your assets with the same rigorous oversight.

> Lots of services Vs concentrated services – this is dependent upon your needs. A firm that can offer you all sorts of corporate solutions, as well as individually tailored personal ones, may be of great benefit to you. However, solutions need to be fit for purpose. A good private office provider may be able to offer in house services but will also work with you if you want to seek corporate solutions elsewhere. They can still be your representative and provider of a virtual private office, they will even be the ‘4 eyes’ to your externally managed structure, the oversight you want.

The best advice is to ‘try before you buy’. A good private office provider will spend time getting to know you, offer one or two meetings without charge and even offer a couple of solutions before they received payment. This way you can test their expertise and experience and see how well they execute a solution. It also gives you a chance to see if you ‘connect’ and assess if this is a professional marriage you want to enter into for the long term.

How can JTC help? 

JTC Private Office can be appointed to assist you and your family with as much or as little as required. Some of the services we offer, but are not limited to, include:

˃ Support services – includes fleet management, concierge, relocation and immigration, payroll and HR/staff management, security, IT support, property management and compliance (including tax)

˃ Use of external practitioners and services providers – lawyers, bankers, investment & tax advisers, insurance brokers, trustees and accountants

˃ Specialist support – can include art, life style and luxury assets, marine and aviation and general or philanthropic/charitable project management

˃ Trust, foundation and company services – includes administration, accounting, consolidated reporting, virtual CFO as well as bill payments and banking support

˃ Consolidated reporting and document management – this utilises our multi-award winning technology, Edge

˃ ‘Manager of Managers’ – our role ensures full oversight and control of out-of-house expertise, with professional advisors working to maximise efficiency (appropriate fees and access to information)

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