Monument Wealth Management Articles

Is It Time to Upgrade to An Independent Advisor?

Sep 15, 2022 Choosing an Advisor

Share on your favorite platform, or by email

Independent Advisors BarronsEarlier this year, Dave Armstrong and I spoke at a Barron’s Advisor conference, which was an opportunity to hear from our peers: other advisors who work in wealth management helping clients, ostensibly doing exactly what Monument does. One of the sessions I attended was billed as a discussion with the next generation of top advisors. Two of the panelists were what, inside the biz, we called “wirehouse” advisors. What is a wirehouse advisor? In plain English, wirehouse advisors and investment bank advisors (as opposed to independent advisors like Monument) are affiliated with big institutions… think the ones that you see TV commercials for or have big signage on a building.

Now, to be clear, I’m not knocking these guys. They are very successful at what they do. But as I sat there, listening to the “best in class ideas” coming from these advisors, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Is this really it?” (And as you picture the below, keep in mind they are all wearing suits.)


“We pair clients with an advisor who best matches their personality and/or life stage.” Ok, sure.

“We have an annual meeting with our clients.” Table stakes.

“We provide amazing client service.” Again, table stakes.

“We prefer in-person meetings with our clients and having staff in-office.” Aka an unwillingness to work with clients on the terms they prefer and to think outside a geographic perimeter to attract top talent.

“We help our clients with holistic financial planning.” What does that even mean?


And then I obviously thought to myself, “Well Monument is way better than this!”

So, what differentiates a client’s experience at Monument from an experience with a bank or wirehouse advisor? Here’s our answer…

The Monument Client Experience

Depth of Advice

Banks and wirehouses have stringent rules restricting what they can advise clients on. That means that while some parts of your financial picture may be reviewed, other parts are left in the dark. Monument, in contrast, is able to give you a full 360-degree view of your wealth planning needs—may they be related to planning for retirement, business sale(s), uneven cash flows, major life transitions, taxes, stock options and/or concentrated positions, trust and estate, legacy and family wealth transfer, risk management, charitable giving, education funding, Medicare, long-term care, financial literacy for the next generation…(I can keep going).

At Monument, your investment management will never be restricted to a template. We manage portfolios in-house, which allows our portfolio management team of CFAs and CIPMs to be fully accountable and aware of what is happening, what we need to change to keep you on track, and most importantly, why you do or don’t own a particular investment. Your portfolio allocation is customized to you and your personal needs, is flexible over time (and perhaps even to changes in market conditions), and is always mindful of taxes, costs, and transparency.


A Lot of Voices, Not Just One

independent financial advisory teamAt a bank or wirehouse, you have your advisor—possibly a small team, but more than likely a single advisor who oversees your accounts. At Monument, every client is a client of the firm, not a specific advisor. Therefore, you benefit from the advice of a true Team, one made up of several free-thinking, opinionated experts from different disciplines, or as we refer to it, a Collective Mastermind. We promise to work collaboratively as a “brain trust” to provide you with the very best advice and recommendations. You can expect to interact directly with all members of our Team.


Clear Action Steps

Have you ever left a meeting with your advisor thinking, “But what do I actually need to do?” In our book, that’s a failure. A meeting with Monument is one in which you know exactly what our recommendations are and walk out clear on what next steps you need to take (if Monument can’t take them for you). Facing a big decision? We’ll give you considerations to think about, but we’ll also give you our opinion on what you should do. In fact, our opinion is always present in everything we do at Monument.


Culture: It’s Not Just a Word to Us

Independent Advisor Culture

Unlike a bank or wirehouse advisor who works for a global or regional firm, Monument is an independent financial advisor—and that means we can control our culture (among many things). We take what do extremely seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We are dedicated to our culture where people have fun, talk in plain English, love dogs, never wear suits, and always collaborate (in the deepest sense of the word). Monument’s culture empowers the entire team to create solutions with an eye toward helping our clients have the best experience and achieve their goals, both personal and financial.


Frequent Communications

independent financial advisor podcastHow often do you hear from your advisor? Are you ever thinking, “Is my advisor paying attention to what’s going on (so I don’t have to)?” Monument is always putting out new content on our blog, resource center, podcast and social media.

Clients also receive exclusive monthly commentary and updates on our investment models, our WIN: Wealth of Insight Newsletter, and important timely communications about tax documents and current events that could impact a wealth plan. This doesn’t even include personal outreach from our team members. In short, you’ll hear from us a lot and will always be able to look back on what we were thinking at any given time.

(And not to mention our “digital diary” of over a decade of blog posts, most notably what we were saying when markets were at their worst moments. Try finding a wirehouse or bank advisor who will publicly post their personal thoughts and opinions on market movements, let alone a decade of them.)


Leveraging Technology

Because Monument is an independent advisor—not a huge company that must manage technology and compliance for thousands of advisors—we have no limitations on the technology we can use or the speed in which we adopt it. That means we are constantly looking for ways to optimize our technology and seek out solutions that will allow us to do more for our clients and improve their experience at Monument. Want some recent examples?

  • Asset management software that blends a systematic single-stock strategy with active tax-loss harvesting
  • Financial planning software to identify tax optimization opportunities
  • Enhancements to our online portal where clients can view account activity, performance, and tax information


Your Bespoke Tailor

While we’d love to help every single person who wants to work with us, fact is, we’re a boutique firm—and the value of what we do is dependent on the amount of time and resources we invest in our client relationships. Like a bespoke tailor, it is in the quality of our work, not the sheer number of clients.

Are We a Fit?

Monument operates in a world of customization, not standardization. We like using the 64-count box of crayons, not the 8-count box. And because of that, we truly do believe we are able to give our clients a better wealth management experience than anyone else.

Does it sound like your experience at Monument will be better than with your bank or wirehouse advisor? Check out Monument’s Are We A Fit page to complete a short questionnaire and see if we’re the right wealth management team for you.


High Earners Eye Retirement

It’s time to find clarity around your finances and remove the anxiety of the unknown.

Read our case study, “High Earners Eye Retirement,” to see how we helped one of our clients plan for the long term.


Ready for straightforward, unfiltered opinion and tailored advice for YOUR questions, not everyone else’s?

Jessica L. photo

Jessica L. Gibbs, CFP®

Vice President & Partner

Jessica was inspired by a podcast to become a financial planner. At the time, she was working at the Brookings Institution as part of their fundraising team. Even though she enjoyed working with individuals on their philanthropic giving, Jessica decided that wealth management was a better way to build the type of long-term, advice-driven relationships she values. After completing Georgetown University’s Certificate in Financial Planning program....

Learn more ...

Stay up to date!

Subscribe to our “Off the Wall” Blog for articles and videos on all things wealth management, by all members of our Team. Unlike Facebook, we will never share your data with anyone.


Please remember that past performance is no guarantee of future results.  Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by Monument Capital Management, LLC [“Monument”]), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this blog will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful.  Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions.  Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this blog serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Monument. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing. No amount of prior experience or success should be construed that a certain level of results or satisfaction will be achieved if Monument is engaged, or continues to be engaged, to provide investment advisory services. Monument is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the blog content should be construed as legal or accounting advice.

A copy of Monument’s current written disclosure Brochure discussing our advisory services and fees is available for review upon request or at Please Note: Monument does not make any representations or warranties as to the accuracy, timeliness, suitability, completeness, or relevance of any information prepared by any unaffiliated third party, whether linked to Monument’s website or blog or incorporated herein, and takes no responsibility for any such content. All such information is provided solely for convenience purposes only and all users thereof should be guided accordingly.

Historical performance results for investment indices, benchmarks, and/or categories have been provided for general informational/comparison purposes only, and generally do not reflect the deduction of transaction and/or custodial charges, the deduction of an investment management fee, nor the impact of taxes, the incurrence of which would have the effect of decreasing historical performance results.  It should not be assumed that your Monument account holdings correspond directly to any comparative indices or categories. Please Also Note: (1) performance results do not reflect the impact of taxes; (2) comparative benchmarks/indices may be more or less volatile than your Monument accounts; and, (3) a description of each comparative benchmark/index is available upon request.

Please Remember: If you are a Monument client, please contact Monument, in writing, if there are any changes in your personal/financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing/evaluating/revising our previous recommendations and/or services, or if you would like to impose, add, or to modify any reasonable restrictions to our investment advisory services.  Unless, and until, you notify us, in writing, to the contrary, we shall continue to provide services as we do currently. Please Also Remember to advise us if you have not been receiving account statements (at least quarterly) from the account custodian.