How A Family Office Differs From A Financial Advisory Firm

When you visit your doctor’s office you are not looking for someone who is motivated to sell you the latest medications. You want a physician to analyze your overall health and make recommendations designed to restore your well-being.

Yet many successful people seeking financial guidance look to advisors at traditional brokerage firms in the Triad region of North Carolina and South Carolina rather than seeking the more in-depth advice provided by family office practitioners. Often it’s a matter of habit – many professionals, executives and entrepreneurs turned to stockbrokers early in their career and are accustomed to dealing with separate brokers, insurance agents, attorneys and other narrowly focused advisors.

Once you amass a more substantial net worth, though, you should consider moving up to the next level of wealth management – a family office equipped to preserve and increase your family’s well-being by providing holistic financial services based on objective analysis of your needs and goals.

I know, you hear similar claims from many solo financial advisors, but someone who is focused solely on your investment portfolio or your insurance coverage or your taxes cannot by definition provide you with efficient, coordinated wealth management services.

The difference between a family office and a financial advisor office goes much deeper, though: We focus on your overall happiness rather than simply your net worth. The following true-life example provides a meaningful illustration:

A highly successful physician came to my office for an interview. Timonier Family Office had been managing his medical practice 401(k) plan, and our in-house CPA encouraged him to find out more about our private family services. Initially, the 55-year-old doctor, accompanied by his wife, was not very communicative. It soon became clear that he was suffering from immense financial stress even though his private practice group was generating a very impressive income.

As the picture became more clear, I asked the physician a simple question, “What brings you joy?” He looked at me in silence for a few seconds, and then answered, “I don’t know.”

The doctor and his wife took a weeklong vacation and realized they wanted an entirely new lifestyle focused on attaining serenity, joy and peace. They learned the art of meditation and they tapped into their passions for travel and scuba diving. This couple furthermore harnessed their current resources to align with the life they now envisioned. By eliminating two very expensive and underutilized hobbies that no longer were serving them, this couple was able to redirect these costs towards paying down their substantial debts while also being able to put more money away for retirement.

A year later, during an annual review, we found our clients in the state of well-being we wish for all our clients. They were in better physical shape, re-energized and fiscally back on track, and they now have decided to retire within a couple of years. We created a revised financial plan based on their new goals, and have them on their way to successful and comfortable retirement years fulfilling their newfound passions.

I have seen many people change their lives in this way, residents of Winston-Salem, Greensboro, High Point, Charleston and elsewhere. Sometimes all it takes is someone acting in a fiduciary capacity to help them see the bigger picture of their life maps/destinies. A family office can provide that spark, that awakening to make life-altering changes, if needed, as well as add the efficiencies and strategies required to set out for and safely reach that new destination.

Are you tired of dealing with advisors whose motivations are unknown to you? Has your asset base grown to the point where your advisors sometimes seem to be working at cross-purposes? Are you looking for synchronicity in financial advice? Do you want to benefit from having a collaborative team working as your advocates? If so, you owe it to yourself and your family to discover the difference a family office can make for your future.