On September 18, 2015, Partner and Family CFO Brad Koeneman was featured on the St. Louis Business Journal’s Table of Experts discussing Wealth Management. If you are a subscriber, you can read the full, eight-page special supplement by clicking here.
If you are not a subscriber, you can read Brad’s responses below.
STLBJ: What are clients looking for in a wealth management plan?
BK: It’s not so much a plan as a relationship with a trusted advisor — somebody who will dig through the gory details and figure out if all the bases are covered — not just the investment piece. That they’re also looking for expertise in a wide variety of financial topics.
STLBJ: Why can’t you use a template that you pull off of the internet for wealth management?
BK: I don’t think the machine knows your hopes and dreams. It should be much more human than that, to where we really know what’s specifically important to you. It’s not just the dollars.
STLBJ: We are in a tumultuous economic environment. How do you handle your clients’ concerns?
BK: We advocate having a very specific non-emotional investment plan in place. It is good to counsel clients to absolutely anticipate that volatility will happen. We’ve been lulled to sleep in the last five years by a lack of volatility. We try awfully hard in these calm times to help clients anticipate that there will be volatility at times and that is OK. We saw just a bit of a hiccup in the past couple of weeks. If the market had continued to fall, maybe we would have seen more reaction from clients. Of the 70 families that my team advises, only three called to discuss things, with two of the three wanting to add to their equity exposure. Volatility is a normal. If you didn’t have it, you wouldn’t have the attractive historical returns in these asset classes. In times of volatility, we work with clients to help them avoid making ad-hoc reappraisals of their plans by reminding them of their long-term goals.
STLBJ: What are the biggest obstacles to good planning?
BK: Human nature and inertia are the two biggest obstacles to good planning. People often find that it is hard to get started on their own. Human beings are hard wired to make “The Big Mistake,” which is a desire to add to investments after markets have risen considerably or wanting to panic and sell after prices have fallen. The financial media can fan these flames of emotion. We work closely with our clients to maintain an even keel when markets become volatile.
STLBJ: Are you seeing more socially responsible investing these days?
BK: We are. I would [say] there is a connection being made between what peoples’ values are and where they’re going to put their money.
STLBJ: What are the unique needs of multi-generational families?
BK: We facilitate family meetings with our clients. Many times the estate planning piece is the glue or reason for bringing the family members together. There can be many positive things that come from this family discussion. The information can either be detailed or vague regarding the dollar amounts. The sharing of the philosophies of both the parents and the children can be very effective in rebuilding communication where maybe it had been lost over time. Also, health directives are extremely important to discuss. I got the call from my mother at 10:30 at night after my dad had a massive stroke. He had not put a directive in place. Without warning, my mother and uncle asked me, “What should we do with your father right now?” It is far better to plan for these kinds of things than to make a life or death decision during emotional times. It is very comforting to know the wishes of your family members.
STLBJ: Brad, you call yourself a Family CFO. What does that mean?
BK: It’s the best way we can describe what we do for people. Being a Family CFO is much broader than simply an investment plan. Few firms, even registered investment advisory firms, really look at everything to pull all of the pieces together. Most families need a quarterback. They need one person to represent the family in a variety of interests, one team who is not conflicted and is only acting in the clients’ best interest to help the family identify what’s important and how to achieve it. Earlier, the term “simplicity” was mentioned. Our role is to simplify peoples’ lives. It is to help them rest easy, knowing that we have their backs.