“Off The Wall” Blog
Unique, straight-forward, unfiltered opinion on topics of concern for individuals with newfound wealth.
Are you searching for answers to your wealth management questions? Do you find yourself sitting in front of Google typing in questions like these?
- What is Private Wealth Management?
- Best financial advisor near me
- Best Wealth Management Firms
If you do, no doubt you are as frustrated with the actual search for answers as you are with the search results, and here’s why.
Because everyone says they have “the best”—the best firm, the best plans, the best portfolio strategy, the best client service. You know, it’s the same thing as “The Best Coffee in Town” …when everyone can say it, everyone does.
But here’s the problem – those search results merely highlight “points of parity” and probably result in a lot of sales jargon where one firm looks precisely like the others.
You are trying to solve a problem, and it has nothing to do with who’s the best. Your problem is causing you anxiety and stress. Your pain points are embedded in what is likely to be a lack of clarity surrounding your financial situation.
Here’s a list of common pain points we hear when we meet new clients:
- Poor communications with their current advisor
- A lack of trust in the financial industry
- An absence of perceived value relative to the fee paid for wealth management
- Questionable confidence in the advice they are receiving or the choices their advisor is offering
- A feeling of “flying blind”
- Overcomplicated, jargon-riddled answers to simple questions
I’ll bet – I didn’t come up with that list out of the blue.
Points of parity vs differentiation
When you attempt to differentiate one wealth advisor from another, the lack of clarity is in large part due to wealth management firms highlighting points of parity as “points of differentiation.”
For example, ever wonder about that sign hanging in the restroom of your favorite restaurant? You know the one…it says, “Employees must wash hands before returning to work.”
When wealth management firms try to differentiate themselves with points of parity, it’s like a restaurant saying, “We are the best restaurant because our employees wash their hands after using the restroom.”
I mean, when I see that sign, my first (and frankly only) thought is, “Jezzz, I’d hope so.”
Here are some of my favorite equivalents to that sign in the wealth management world. You will find these under something like the “What Makes Us Different” section of a firm’s website:
- We embrace fiduciary obligation
- Advice that is always in your best interest
- A portfolio tailored to your needs
- Comprehensive financial planning and wealth management
- Communications to help you stay on track
- Transparency on fees and portfolios
- We put clients first
When I go to my favorite restaurant, I don’t ask if the employees wash their hands and you don’t either, and here’s why…YOU EXPECT THEM TO.
Same thing with the website list above.
Key Point – It’s not that those things are unimportant. In fact, they are essential. We list some of those things on our website, too…but they are points of parity, not points of differentiation.
They are “table stakes,” as they are commonly referred to.
There is no such thing as out-performance on points of parity, only non-performance.
The points of parity MUST BE PRESENT. Period. As Yoda said in Star Wars, “Do or do not, there is no try.”
It is the points of differentiation that always seem to be lacking and they are the most important when searching for the best wealth management firm.
How to search for the best wealth management firm
My advice to anyone looking for the best wealth management firm is to start by using Google to search for answers to your pain points and then dig deep into a firm’s points of differentiation while glossing over the points of parity.
What you are hoping to find is a website that lets you know you have probably arrived in the right place, along with a well-thought-out value proposition that clearly tells you what makes them different.
If you find those two things and they resonate with you, dig deeper:
- Look at the team members and their credentials – do you connect with the personas they portray in their bios? Are they relatable?
- Look at their process – do you see more points of parity, or are they doing something interesting, different, or unique?
- Get a feel for their culture – does it resonate with you?
- Is their content “always-on”? – is it current, timely, informative, meaningful, and relevant? Do they even HAVE ANY?
- Are they engaging across several different channels (website, social media, quotes in the press, video, etc.) with a specific client segment – and is that segment you?
- Take a look at what they were saying in the past…in public, on their webpage, and in their content – is it even there?
- What were they publishing and saying in March and April of 2020, December of 2018, January/February of 2016, and the summer of 2015 when the market was struggling and people were panicking?
- Is it authentic and using a voice that matches the personas of the team members and the overall culture of the firm?
- Apply the commonsense test – does everything seem reasonable and straightforward, or is it riddled in complicated jargon?
Stop searching for the “best”—the best firm, the best plans, the best portfolio strategy, the best client service. Those are simply points of parity and don’t help you find a solution to your pain points.
No sign in a bathroom is a reasonable indication of hygiene in your favorite restaurant. You will get a better assessment of that by paying more attention to how the meal is created, the cooks’ skill, the quality of service, and the ambiance of the experience.
If those elements are five-star quality, they don’t need that sign in the restroom to reassure you of clean hands.
Keep looking forward.
IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION
Please remember that past performance may not be indicative 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.
Please remember that if you are a Monument client, it remains your responsibility to advise 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. 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. 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 https://monumentwealthmanagement.com/disclosures/. Please Note: IF you are a Monument client, please advise us if you have not been receiving account statements (at least quarterly) from the account custodian.
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 web site 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.
David B. Armstrong, CFA
President & Co-Founder
Dave got into the industry when he discovered his passion for finance in his mid-20’s. He’s a combat veteran and served as an officer in the United States Marines Corps on both active duty and in the reserves, retiring at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. While serving on active duty, Dave was unable to spend money on deployments, so he became a self-taught investor. Along with a few bucks cash as a bouncer, his investing performance grew to be good....
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