Goals Based Investment Management: Keeping it Objective
Keeping it Objective
In any situation where the stakes are high, the outcome is critical, and the well-being of others is on the line, it is essential for those in charge to remain objective, focus on the goal, and trust their skill, training and expertise to be the guide. This applies whether it is a fighter pilot on a mission, an Olympian pursuing the gold or a financial professional managing their clients’ wealth.
Who knew wealth management was so intense?
Diana Henke knows, and she remembers it every day as she works with her clients within the Wealth Management & Advisory Services division of Washington Trust Bank, to help them plan and meet their long-term wealth goals. As a senior vice president and relationship manager within the division, Henke has a deep rapport with her clients, and a deep belief in the organization’s commitment to keeping it objective when it comes to guiding clients on their path to financial wealth.
“I have the opportunity to work with clients who seek us out when there’s been an event in their life and they need the bank’s advisory on how to proceed going forward,” she says. Part of that advisory is keeping an objective viewpoint so the best advice possible is given to each individual client.
“We have the ability to work with our clients at all different levels, whether they are accumulating their wealth or when we work with them after an event,” she says. “An event typically can be a major disruption in our clients’ lives, such as an inheritance, retirement, the sale of a business, or litigation. It’s a time when there really is an uncertainty, and we come in and work with them to identify, clearly, what are their objectives.”
It is not just discovering clients’ objectives that is important, but also remaining as objective as possible in the decisions the clients and the Wealth Management team take to meet those objectives.
“It’s clearly pivotal to the client discussion that we have, to be as objective as possible in what our clients need,” says Henke. “Keeping it objective is the key to success.”
Oftentimes, clients don’t have just one objective; rather, a client might have multiple objectives for their wealth. In that case, the team in Wealth Management & Advisory Services will prioritize those objectives with their client, working with them to customize a plan that best serves all of those priorities.
“It’s clearly different how we approach this for our clients at Washington Trust,” says Henke. “This is why our clients truly seek us out. We work as a team; it’s not always just one person who’s giving the advisement. We really work to the best of our abilities, within the team, to position and customize a client’s needs, and we consider what the best team is that we can put together on behalf of this client.”
Whether it is investment management, trust services, estate services or something else, Henke and her colleagues are always looking ahead, as a team, to see what other services they can provide that are to the client’s best advantage.
“Oftentimes with our clients, when there’s been an event, they rush to what may not be to their best advantage,” says Henke. “A good example of this is the sale of a business. Typically, it’s an entrepreneurial type client. They’ve owned a business for many years, they’ve created a business, and they know it well. Now, they are in this very uncertain time where they’ve sold the business and they’re looking at a different structure of their wealth. It is not uncommon for us to work with clients to slow that process down; to get them to understand how important the conversation is with us, how much information we need from them so we can customize. Our job really is to take the time and make sure what we’re doing is spot on for what they need.”
Part of that planning includes having goals-based discussions about what a client needs. “That’s when our team comes in to really do what they do best, and it’s complex,” says Henke. “That’s where our portfolio management team, our financial planning, tax consideration — all the variables of what our client may need — that’s when everything starts to come together. By no means is it easy, but we’ll make it understandable to our client, in their best interest. Goals-based planning, and understanding what your goal is, is pivotal to success.”
Washington Trust’s Wealth Management & Advisory Services has dedicated financial planners who work with banking officers and investment management officers to make sure that a plan is in place and is appropriate for each unique client. They customize a financial plan with their financial planning experts to ensure every client is matched up to the appropriate objective.
“A goals-based approach takes more time, but it is the right way to do it,” says Henke. “At Washington Trust, we know that a goals-based approach is the best in the interest of our client.”
That knowledge to which Henke refers is tried and true, considering Washington Trust has been a trustee since 1902. The wealth managers know it’s important for them to be a valued and trusted fiduciary to their clients, understanding what each one is facing.
“What you find in the investment management process, when done correctly, is that initially there is a great deal of information coming forth from the client,” says Henke. “We’re listening to the client, we’re asking questions, and the information is coming from that client. After the point where we start to identify what the goals are and some of the parameters that client may have, then it tends to switch where we guide that conversation with the client. But it is really typical that at the start of a goals-based process, the client is very involved with us.”
Even with the best crafted plan, there any number of obstacles clients may experience, and Wealth Management & Advisory Services is capable and proactive about dealing with these. “Many times it is within their own family,” says Henke of the obstacles clients might face. We’re listening to what the obstacles are with our client, and we want to know, particularly from them, what is concerning to them. Then we can typically meet whatever obstacles they have identified with a good strategy and confidence.”
One reason they are able to strategize and overcome those obstacles is because at Washington Trust, there is not just one sole advisor working with the client; rather, there is a team behind every client relationship.
“At Washington Trust, the great thing is we have many minds that are coming into play when it comes to a client’s needs,” says Henke, “and in that respect, we’re looking at it with different expertise, a different focus.”
This team approach relies on the pillars upon which Washington Trust is built.
“When you work with Washington Trust, you really understand the conviction of the four pillars of Watrustology — Passion, Wisdom, Strength and Vision — and how important they are in the relationships we have with our clients,” says Henke. “Our team comes together on behalf of a client, in the best interest of a client, with many different opinions, but ultimately it comes together collectively, and that’s why our clients seek us out.”
Clarity and objectivity are critical in life, but it can be difficult to be perfectly objective on your own when considering your personal investments and wealth. To understand and trust in the team that you are working with, knowing that they are going to bring forward what you need, in your best interest, is essential.
“I find the process rewarding,” says Henke. “When you come along with Washington Trust and you understand the process that we have — and it’s a very specific, dedicated, well thought out, expert process — and when we start to see that client understand, and we can help to bring them along to what they need, that understanding is what keeps us enjoying what we do.
Henke knows what her objective is: caring for her clients with their best interest in mind, and a goals-based plan that gets them there.
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