Hire Specialists, Not Generalists For Managing Your Wealth

February 27, 2024

Ask yourself this question: Is your Advisor a specialist or a generalist? Does he or she have a focused set of skills and resources to serve the unique needs of your family, or are they more general by providing basic advice for varying types of clients? Even if you think you don’t “need” a specialist or are concerned that “specialty anything” drives cost through the moon, let’s talk about why that’s not always the case and why most families should be seeking specialist advisors to partner with.  

Imagine this: It’s a warm summer afternoon with a clear blue sky, not a cloud in sight. You’re out for a spirited drive in your classic Porsche with the telltale howl of an air-cooled motor singing its song. You’re stopped at a red light thinking to yourself about how great this moment is. All of a sudden, someone behind you forgets which pedal is brake and which is gas. Next thing you know, you’re watching in disbelief as your car gets winched up onto a flatbed with its rear bumper scraping across the pavement. Now ask yourself, where would you prefer to send your beautiful car to be brought back to life? Will it be the general auto garage in town that works on a wide variety of cars? Or will it be the Porsche specialist, with in-house Porsche certified technicians and the single focus of Porsche vehicles? I know what you’re thinking, and I would pick the Porsche specialist too.  

What’s interesting to me is that when most people consider how to handle a valuable car, they choose specialists but when handling the entirety of their wealth they often end up with generalists. I’m not exactly sure why but I presume it’s due to a lack of time to research options (common for successful families) and knowledge that such specialists even exist. The second issue is clearly the fault of the finance industry. With behemoth banks & brokerages advertising as the best solution for everyone and discount brokerages pitching the do-it-yourselfers, it can be difficult to cut through the noise. I even recently met an advisor who “focused” on advising, get this, doctors, executives, business owners, attorney’s and CPAs. I couldn’t help but laugh to myself.  

So, here’s the deal, different folks have different needs. Executives have unique equity benefits, doctors have distinct disability needs, firemen have specific employment risks, the list goes on and on. Each of these needs can often benefit from specialized services and advice. By partnering with a firm that specializes in your unique needs, you may be able to better access relevant advice and resources to maximize your situation while also saving time in the process.  

The truth is that there are many very good advisors, just like there are many great mechanics. What makes a good advisor great is the ability to deliver specialized advice and execute at a high level. The kicker here is that unlike when dealing with mechanics, specialist advisors might not be more expensive than the generalist. So please, seek out an advisory firm that truly specializes in serving the unique needs of your family, I think you and that Porsche will be happy you did.  

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Tim Golas
Spurstone Partner