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How to Manage High-Net-Worth Clients to Keep Them


Working with high-net-worth clients can present some unique opportunities if you’re able to establish long-term relationships, garner more referrals and increase business revenue. Managing these types of clients requires specialized knowledge and understanding of the needs and concerns that wealthy investors often have. Knowing what to expect can help you to balance serving your high-net-worth clients with maintaining a growing practice.

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What Makes High-Net-Worth Clients Unique

High-net-worth clients, meaning individuals with $1 million or more in investable assets, typically have more complex needs than other types of clients. Their primary concerns may center on developing strategies to preserve assets, minimize tax liability and seamlessly pass on wealth to the next generation.

A high-net-worth individual may require an advisor with expertise in tax planning, estate planning and wealth management. Their investment portfolios may hold more than the typical mix of stocks and bonds, and include alternative investments such as private equity, real estate, precious metals or collectibles.

High-net-worth clients may have established family offices or be interested in creating one. They might own businesses and need help with developing a succession plan that allows them to exit when they’re ready to do so. Or they may be preparing to step up their philanthropic efforts and are wondering where a private foundation fits into the picture.

Advisors who work with high-net-worth clients should be equipped to offer holistic financial advice that spans a broad range of scenarios.

Managing High-Net-Worth Clients Effectively

A financial advisor helping a high-net-worth client manage a portfolio.

If you’ve successfully attracted high-net-worth clients to your business, the next step is ensuring that you can retain them without stretching yourself too thin. Developing a game plan that covers the following points can help you be the advisor your clients need while running a thriving practice.

1. Emphasize Value

High-net-worth clients may be in a better position to pay more in advisory fees, but they want to ensure they’re getting some of equal, if not greater, value in return.

Ask yourself what you’re currently doing to provide that value. For instance, does that include:

  • Constructing strategic portfolios that are individually tailored to each client’s objectives and risk tolerance
  • Routinely reviewing client portfolios to look for opportunities to optimize for tax efficiency or investment returns
  • Looking beyond stocks and beyond when choosing investments to recommend for a diversified portfolio
  • Responding promptly to client communications
  • Offering comprehensive advice that addresses every aspect of a client’s financial life

2. Know Your Place in the Team

You may be just one individual that a high-net-worth client turns to for financial advice. They may also have a certified public accountant and estate planning attorney who assist them in making decisions.

It’s to your advantage to know where you fit into the team and what your client expects from each of you. That can prevent misunderstandings that might arise should you or another team member overstep their bounds. It can also facilitate greater accountability and ensure that everyone is fulfilling their role.

If your client has assets held away, that’s something you’d want to know as well, as it can better inform your decision-making. And if you’re emphasizing a holistic planning approach that’s value-focused, you may have an opportunity to persuade your client to bring those assets under your management.

3. Think Long Term

Building trust and loyalty are critical to retaining high-net-worth clients. How you interact with clients and make them feel can determine how long they remain your client.

Again, ask yourself what you’re doing or have to offer that is designed to encourage loyalty. That means more than just holding client appreciation events a few times a year or offering incentives for referrals.

Here are three common examples of long-term needs that a high-net-worth client might have and possible strategies you could offer as an advisor.

  • Charitable giving. Wealthier clients who want to pass on a sizable portion of their estate to charity may benefit from a variety of strategies, including the use of donor-advised funds, charitable remainder trusts and qualified charitable distributions from an individual retirement account.
  • Business planning. Business clients may need help with establishing or maintaining retirement plans for their employees, developing additional incentives to encourage employee retention or building out a succession plan that includes key person insurance. They may also seek advice on how to leverage loans to grow their businesses.
  • Legacy planning. Wealthy clients may have legacy planning needs that require the establishment of one or more trusts. They may also look to you to help with developing a more sophisticated approach to tax planning.

4. Close the Generational Gap

High-net-worth clients may plan to pass on the bulk of their wealth to their children. As their advisor, you have an opportunity to retain those assets under management by connecting with the next generation.

But, how can you do that effectively? Sitting down with your clients and their heirs is a good starting point. This is your chance to get the conversation flowing and discuss your clients’ expectations for passing on wealth, as well as what their heirs expect.

Your client may have specific values they want to preserve alongside their wealth, something a family sit-down would allow them to communicate clearly. Likewise, their heirs may have questions or concerns they may not have felt comfortable addressing directly.

Acting as a facilitator of these conversations is a way to reassure your clients that you’re acting with their needs in mind while providing their heirs with insight into what it is you do—and how you might be able to help them in the future.

5. Utilize Technology

Managing high-net-worth client relationships can be more time-intensive and it’s important to have a strategy for balancing their needs against your goals where business growth is concerned. Implementing systems and strategies that are supported by technology can make it easier to do both.

Some of the areas of opportunity for implementing software solutions can include:

  • New client onboarding
  • Portfolio management
  • Marketing
  • Lead generation
  • Back-end processes, such as accounting and reporting
  • Compliance

Automating or outsourcing day-to-day tasks can free up valuable time in your schedule that you can devote to serving your clients. It may take some time to build out your tech stack, but it may be well worth the effort if it allows you to maintain a steady pace of growth and exceed client expectations.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a High-Net-Worth Client?

A high-net-worth client or high-net-worth individual is generally someone who has $1 million or more in liquid assets, while very high-net-worth typically means $5 million in liquid assets. An ultra-high-net-worth individual is someone who has $30 million or more in investable assets. High-net-worth is different from mass affluent. Someone who is mass affluent may have $1 million in assets, but their needs in working with an advisor may lean toward things like retirement planning or college planning.

How Do You Communicate With High-Net-Worth Clients?

High-net-worth clients may have different expectations for communication than other clients concerning how you’ll communicate, how often you’ll be in touch and how quickly you’ll respond when they reach out to you with questions. Establishing those expectations from your initial meeting can help you handle communication more effectively.

How Do You Attract High-Net-Worth Clients?

Attracting high-net-worth clients to your business begins with developing a targeted marketing plan that speaks to their unique pain points. For instance, it’s important to ensure that your messaging is specific rather than generic and is positioned where it’s most likely to be seen by wealthy clients who may be looking for financial advice. Leveraging referrals is another way to expand your client base to include high-net-worth individuals

Bottom Line

High-net-worth clients reviewing a portfolio managed by their advisor.

High-net-worth clients may place different demands on your knowledge, expertise and time but working with them can be rewarding on multiple levels. The better you get to know what these clients need, the easier it becomes to satisfy those needs and grow a sustainable business.

Tips for Growing Your Advisory Business

  • You may consider branching out into lead generation as a way to gain more exposure. SmartAsset AMP (Advisor Marketing Platform) is our holistic marketing service financial advisors can use for client lead generation and automated marketing. Sign up for a free demo to explore how SmartAsset AMP can help you expand your practice’s marketing operation. Get started today.
  • Turning your focus to high-net-worth clients may require you to rethink your client-advisor ratio. An ideal ratio is typically 50 to 150 clients, but you may decide to keep that ratio on the lower end if you’re exclusively working with higher net worth individuals. That can allow you to provide maximum value to the clients you work with and make your daily schedule less taxing.

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