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Majority of ultra wealthy don’t share personal goals with financial advisors, says SEI


When it comes to keeping their advisors in the know, most wealthy investors "just say no," according to a poll released by SEI. The poll revealed that while the overwhelming majority of wealthy individuals believe it is important for their advisors to know all their goals, only a small percentage say their advisors actually know their financial, business and personal goals.

In fact, while more than two thirds (67 per cent) of wealthy individuals say it is important or very important for their advisor to know all their goals to be successful, just over a quarter (26 per cent) said their financial advisor actually has that depth of knowledge. The results point to an ongoing hole in the financial discovery process, where most advisors and individuals focus on portfolio objectives rather than broader personal goals. It’s an issue most experts agree could lead to incomplete or ineffective advice.

The poll, of nearly 100 individuals representing individuals or families with more than USD5 million of investable assets, was carried out by independent research firm Phoenix Capital Research. It suggests that despite a growing awareness of behavioural finance in recent years that a disconnect remains between wealthy individuals and their advisors when it comes to articulating and measuring against financial and personal goals. The poll showed that one out of five wealthy individuals polled (20 per cent) say their financial goals are known only to themselves. Less than a third of those polled (31 per cent) said their advisor knows about their financial goals, and even fewer (19 per cent) said their advisor knows their goals and measures against them.

"Our industry has been talking for years about the importance of both financial and personal goals, but as this poll shows, the wealth management conversation still centres on risk tolerance or portfolio objectives for too many people," said Michael Farrell, Managing Director for SEI Private Wealth Management. "It’s time to end the financial ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and begin meaningful conversations between advisors and clients about what’s truly important. We’ve spent years developing tools and processes to help us get to the heart of our clients’ financial and personal goals and measure how we’re performing against them."

SEI has worked with experts in the field of psychology and other social-science disciplines to develop tools that have proven to foster more meaningful conversations around life and wealth goals. Specifically, SEI has been recognised for innovations in wealth discovery with high-net-worth families, where it uses an interactive game board to remove the formality and stress from the process. The tool makes it easier for people to articulate personal challenges, biases, family dynamics, goals, and how they define success.

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