Struggling to Add Value: When Your Ideal Client Seems a Little Too Ideal

An advisor was struggling to add value to a client’s financial proposal and reached out to our financial planning team to see if they could assist. On paper, the client was ideal: They had a sizable net worth, were high income earners and low spenders, did a phenomenal job of saving and had very little debt. But most of the client’s money was invested with a prominent robo-advisor, and the client stated they were not interested in leveraging our advisor for investment management services—they only wanted to hire them for a financial plan.

The advisor found themselves in a conundrum: Every retirement scenario they ran had a 99% probability of success, even when they included a sizable inheritance goal and charitable giving strategies. The advisor was worried that the client, a do-it-yourself investor, would look at the plan as a confirmation of their ability to manage their finances on their own and ultimately fire the advisor. That’s when the advisor got our planning team involved.

Our team did an in-depth review of the client’s situation and came up with a variety of value-add opportunities for the advisor to present:

  1. The client’s wife had an employee stock purchase plan (10% discount) that they were not leveraging. We demonstrated the value of maximizing the ESPP and developed a strategy to diversify out of the stock.
  2. The client’s wife also had a significant amount of restricted stock units, both vested and unvested. We provided additional education around RSUs and helped implement a tax minimization and diversification strategy.
  3. The client had overfunded a 529 plan for their only child. We ran an analysis suggesting the client allocate savings elsewhere and encouraged them to utilize the 529 assets to cover private school costs.
  4. We conducted an insurance review and determined the client was underinsured, especially given their approximate $5 million net worth. With the advisor’s support, the client secured additional life insurance and added an umbrella policy to complement their existing P&C insurance.  
  5. We reviewed their estate plan and beneficiary designations. In addition to the documents being outdated, the client realized some of the beneficiaries listed had become irrelevant (deceased, no longer friends, etc.). We helped the advisor connect the client with an attorney to update the documents as well as retitle their home into a revocable trust.
  6. The client was donating a decent sum to charity but not enough to push above the standard deduction. We suggested they establish a donor-advised fund and bunch contributions by contributing the most appreciated shares of the wife’s company stock.

By working with our team, the advisor was able to propose the strategies listed above and prove their value to the client. Instead of worrying about being fired, the advisor gained more business from the client and eventually increased their fee, charged as an annual consulting agreement. Not only was the client pleased with the work, but they also went on to refer new prospects to the advisor.

This article is for informational and educational purposes only. Please understand that no situations or experiences are exactly alike, and the information provided is not to be construed as an endorsement or testimonial of any of its past or current clients or advisors, nor any assurance that we may be able to help anyone achieve the same or similar results. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.