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High-Net-Worth Financial Planning


Financial planning is the process of creating a plan for managing your money and assets. High-net-worth financial planning is aimed specifically at individuals and families who have accumulated a greater degree of wealth. If you’re a high-net-worth individual (HNWI), it’s important to understand the unique challenges that can go along with creating a comprehensive financial plan.

No matter your net worth, a financial advisor can help you make decisions with your money.

What Is Net Worth In Financial Planning?

Net worth measures the difference between someone’s assets and liabilities. In simpler terms, it’s the difference between what you own and what you owe. For perspective, the median household net worth is $121,700 while the mean net worth is $748,800, according to the Survey of Consumer Finances.

A high-net-worth individual is generally defined as someone with $1 million to $10 million in liquid assets. Very high-net-worth individuals have more than $10 million in assets but typically less than $50 million. Once you get to the $50 million mark, you’re in ultra-high-net-worth territory.

It’s important to remember that those figures aren’t fixed or set in stone. For instance, some financial experts may set the cutoff between high net worth and very high net worth at $5 million instead of $10 million. If you’re not sure where you land on the spectrum, you can use an online net worth calculator to run the numbers.

What Is High-Net-Worth Financial Planning?

High-net-worth financial planning is financial planning for people who are considered to have a higher net worth. It consists of strategies that recognize the unique needs of wealthier people with regard to things like investing, tax planning, and insurance.

For example, someone who has a higher net worth might seek out financial advice on:

  • Advanced investment and retirement savings strategies
  • Wealth preservation and how to pass on more of their assets to heirs
  • Asset protection and trust planning
  • How to minimize taxes through charitable giving
  • Life insurance and high-value insurance planning

Financial advisors who specialize in working with high-net-worth clients understand these types of needs and how to address them. They can also offer help with some of the more routine issues in financial planning, such as budgeting, debt repayment or college planning.

Who Needs High-Net-Worth Financial Planning?

high net worth financial planning

Generally, people who have a net worth of $1 million or more might consider seeking out an advisor who works with high-net-worth clients. If your net worth is well below that number or even in the negative, then high-net-worth financial planning probably isn’t something you need, at least not yet.

You could, however, work with a financial advisor to hammer out a plan for reaching a net worth goal of $1 million or more. Your advisor could help you come up with a strategy for paying off debt and fine-tune your investment portfolio so you can eventually join the high-net-worth club.

Financial Planning Strategies for High-Net-Worth Individuals

Financial advisors can take different approaches when managing the needs of high-net-worth clients. However, there are certain things that are more or less universal considerations when helping people with a higher net worth make the most of their wealth.

Financial planning for high-net-worth individuals can span these areas:

  • Asset protection. If you’ve accumulated significant assets, you want to protect them. A financial advisor can guide you as to how to do that, which might include purchasing high-net-worth insurance or a sizable life insurance policy.
  • Tax planning. Taxes can detract from your wealth and it’s to your advantage to learn how to minimize them. Some of the ways your advisor might encourage you to do that include philanthropy and charitable giving, contributing to tax-advantaged retirement accounts and harvesting tax losses to offset capital gains.
  • Estate planning. At some point, you’ll pass on the wealth you’ve accumulated to your heirs. Your financial advisor can offer advice on how to do that through the creation of a will. They can also discuss the benefits of establishing different types of trusts to preserve your financial legacy as much as possible.
  • Investment planning. Investing is central to building wealth and there are numerous ways to approach it, depending on your goals and risk tolerance. A financial advisor can help you to create a diversified portfolio so that you’re able to achieve the level of growth you desire.
  • Charitable giving. Donating some of your wealth to charity may be one of your financial goals. Your advisor can help you to determine the best ways to do that, whether it be through the creation of a charitable trust, donor funds or a private foundation.
  • Insurance planning. Insurance can be invaluable to your financial plan and there are different types of policies you might need. A financial planner can help you to determine what type of coverage you need and in what amount to protect your home, belongings and your family’s financial well-being.
  • End-of-life planning. Certain documents can be vital to an estate plan if you’re concerned about your wishes being upheld if you’re diagnosed with a terminal condition or experience a critical illness or injury. High-net-worth financial planning can also include things like creating an advance health care directive, naming a medical power of attorney or fleshing out a funeral and burial plan.

High-net-worth financial planning may also extend to succession planning if you own a family business. For example, you might need advice on purchasing key man insurance to cover you in the event that you pass away before formally passing the business on to your heirs.

How to Find a High-Net-Worth Financial Advisor

high net worth financial planning

Finding a financial advisor begins with understanding your needs as a high-net-worth individual. Once you have an idea of what you need help with, you can begin your search for an advisor.

It’s a good idea to meet with multiple advisors to find the one that best suits your needs. When vetting advisors, it’s important to ask these questions:

  • Who is your typical client and what net worth range do you work with?
  • What is your preferred investment style?
  • How much do you charge and how are your fees structured?
  • Are you a fiduciary financial advisor?
  • What is your preferred method of communication?
  • How often will we meet?

You may also want to do some preliminary research using FINRA’s BrokerCheck tool. You can use the tool to review a registered broker’s record to see if they’ve ever had any ethical or legal complaints filed against them.

The Bottom Line

Growing your net worth may be one of your financial goals and if it is, it’s important get the right financial planning help. Even if you’re still in the early stages of increasing your net worth, it may benefit you to seek out a financial advisor or planner to help guide your journey.

Financial Planning Tips

  • Don’t have an advisor yet? Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • If you’re interested in DIY financial planning or you’re simply on a tight budget and can’t afford to hire a financial advisor, you might consider investing with a robo-advisor. Robo-advisor platforms can evaluate your goals, risk tolerance and time horizon for investing, then create a diversified portfolio for you. You can invest each month automatically and the robo-advisor does the rest. Comparing the best robo-advisor services can help you find one that’s right for you.

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