Beyond the Black and White: Wealth Management is Much More than Numbers


We have the privilege of working with many clients on a very personal and technical level. Our role is to help clients get from point A to point B. Very rarely is that route linear, which means we devise many different paths in order to provide options to achieve what matters most to each relationship.

Numbers equate to black and white. They represent the quantitative side of decision-making and only tell half of the story. At Legacy Trust, we do not shy away from the softer, intangible side of wealth planning. We embrace the human element of our work in this highly technical and sometimes complicated wealth management field. We call this qualitative data, which in many cases, is the true driver behind decision-making. True wealth management recognizes that the quantitative and the qualitative data are intertwined.

Numbers build the framework for a wealth management plan. Family information, assets, liabilities, income, expenses, tax history, insurance, and other information build the structure of a wealth management plan. Once we have a framework, we cover a list of questions with the client, and discuss a variety of topics to add color to the black and white of the numbers. This is truly where the wealth management plan comes to life because we can then gain the perspective from the client about where they have been, and to see what they would like to accomplish in the future. These conversations are about discovery, seeking an understanding and helping them identify potential issues in their existing planning.

Case Study

Qualitative wealth management bridges the gap from financial planning to personal goals being met. Legacy Trust has recently been engaged in several wealth planning projects, where black and white numbers are only the beginning of planning.

A recent planning engagement was initiated by a client who wanted to help out a child. The child was working hard, doing the right things and had a great head on their shoulders. Our client wanted to help out their child financially, but did not want to inhibit their motivation at the same time.

After gathering all of the pertinent information, seven potential strategies where put together for the client to consider. Pros and cons of each strategy are reviewed and discussed. The client quickly was able to trim the options down to a combination of two proposed strategies. From there we discussed in greater detail how each of the strategies would affect their various goals of this exercise – estate planning, asset protection, retirement and tax planning. The coordination of all of these was extremely important to achieve the most beneficial outcomes for the client and their child.

Ultimately, our client was able to help their child while still not inhibiting their motivation in the process. The child was able to overcome their hurdle and remove a burden of financial stress. This was a win-win for all parties involved.

Lessons Learned
  • There is a give and take in order to accomplish goals. Black and white numbers are not the drivers of decisions, instead the qualitative aspects lead the way.
  • A holistic wealth management context opens up the chance to reexamine choices and to find additional opportunities for clients. Opportunities unveil themselves when placed in the proper, comprehensive context.
  • A deep knowledge of the technical side of wealth management is extremely important and cannot be understated. But a key differentiator is the ability to then move away from the numbers and get into the qualitative side.
Take Away

It is usually easier to approach life from a singular focus, but rarely in our field does that produce good long-term results. The comprehensive approach, which marries the quantitative and qualitative, yields the best outcomes. This can be accomplished when all of the parties involved are aware of the ultimate goal, whether it is a financial or personal goal. Our open communication style has helped to facilitate many transformational discussions.