Michael Zeuner Discusses Independent Wealth Models with Family Wealth Report
December 20, 2018
Family Wealth Report recently wrote an article to address certain questions many investors face about independent wealth models, such as what independence actually means and what signs to look for when seeking an independent advisor. To help answer these questions, and to gain a more comprehensive understanding about independent wealth models, Family Wealth Report spoke with WE Family Offices Managing Partner Michael Zeuner.
According to Zeuner, it is not necessarily a good thing for wealth management service providers to be independent or a bad thing to lack it. Rather, independence is a concept directly related to the role a firm plays for a client.
“Our view is that there are two distinct and different roles to be played: providers with a business model of selling financial products and services; and advisors with a business model of helping families buy, integrate and optimize the financial products and services that are right for them,” explains Zeuner. “WE for example, is an advisor, not a provider.”
According to Zeuner, most UHNW investors form relationships with both advisors and providers. When it comes to providers, independence is less of a requirement than it is with advisors since it is clear that their sole responsibility is to sell and distribute products and services.
“Unfortunately for investors, many service providers market themselves as independent, but there is nothing independent about their business models,” Zeuner warns. “This doesn’t mean that providers aren’t relevant and valuable to investors, it just means that they aren’t and can’t be independent.”
Meanwhile, it is crucial for advisors that are representing a family’s interest on the buy side to be independent in order to ensure that they accumulate the right financial products and services. As Zeuner states, “An advisor must be independent in the broadest sense of the term to fulfill their role for an investor.”