One of the perks of growing affluence is that you’re able to buy your time back. When you have more funds than you have room in your schedule, it makes sense to outsource more everyday tasks – from mundane chores to childcare duties.

For many of the ultra-wealthy, however, the lines between the various people assisting them may begin to blur as time passes. I have heard too many stories to count from friends and colleagues in the wealth management industry of clients who don’t always seem to grasp when the role of their wealth manager ends and that of their chauffeur/cook/person aide begins!

It might be a bit exasperating at times for my colleagues, but it speaks to the degree to which their clients really lean on them and learn to trust them with the most intimate parts of their lives.

I recall one example in particular from an article by writer Brooke Harrington in Forbes. A wealth manager in Hong Kong received a call one evening concerning a quite unorthodox request. A client in Japan was demanding a thousand sides of smoked salmon within a few days. “I’m your wealth manager, not your fishmonger,” he gently replied. The client responded, “Well, today you’re a fishmonger.” Sure enough, the advisor was soon on the phone with contacts at a plant to procure the necessary salmon. They essentially worked a miracle on short notice – which was exactly the idea. The manager later learned that the client was testing him by setting a seemingly impossible, unreasonable task – a test he passed with flying colors.

Luckily most wealth managers will never be called upon to test their prowess in managing fish logistics. But the very best of the profession do indeed go above and beyond their job description to build close relationships with their clients. They should understand their clients’ aspirations and values beyond what the numbers and spreadsheets inform them. More than just an advisor on financial matters, they serve as a trusted counselor and ally.

All of this is important to consider when weighing the cost of signing on with a wealth manager. Some practices may charge a hefty premium for their services that can give prospective clients pause, but it’s important to consider the full range of what you will receive in return beyond the grosses generated in your financial statements. An effective advisor may be able to ultimately add hundreds of basis points of alpha on an annual basis to your net worth through advanced planning strategies that bear fruit over the long run.

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