Given that selecting a wealth adviser is not an easy task for any client, David Sussman, managing director of EFG Wealth Solutions, believes there should be three key considerations when making such a choice.
These are: proficiency, objectivity, and honesty. While these might seem like common-sense guidelines, there are many examples when these get ignored.
In terms of proficiency, Singapore-based Sussman says advisers must have knowledge, confidence and experience as their key characteristics. Being qualified is very different from being credible.
When it comes to objectivity, this should involve a framework to address any potential conflicts of interest.
Yet this is easier said than done. Although one would like to think advisers would be objective, they also have their own targets to meet and career goals to achieve.
As a result, Sussman believes there needs to be a mechanism in place to assess any potential conflicts of interest – starting with open conversations between clients and advisers.
Ensuring objectivity also means determining if the adviser is merely pushing a product or is actually providing real advice, he explains – to understand whether the nature of the relationship is defined by product or advice.
In terms of honesty, meanwhile, this is what Sussman calls a “two-way street”; transparency and confidentiality are elements that every client should be entitled to. But clients must also be honest with their advisers, too, for the relationship to work, he adds.
Ultimately, he believes that the key differentiator to create a successful wealth adviser is the quality and intent of the advice given.