Financial Fitness

Building a Network of Trusted Advisors

Putting together a strong team can help you navigate your financial future.

by Sarah Tuff Dunn - November 20, 2017

The old sports cliché of “There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’” rings true for investment planning, too. Sure, you may have diligently earned your income and carefully mapped out a general course for retirement on your own, but going solo for true long-term success can be perilous.

But just like it’s hard to rely on a single superstar to lead your team to the championship, you shouldn’t expect one advisor to be able to handle every need that comes up in your complex financial life. Assembling a network of professional advisors — which may include tax specialists, accountants, insurance agents, financial advisors, and bankers, along with your own family members — can greatly benefit your holistic plan for the future.

“I like to have the team approach, so the client knows that everyone is acting in their best interest, and that no one is stepping on each other’s toes,” says Robert Sackler, Managing Director of Investments for Wells Fargo Advisors in Beverly Hills, California. “Having everyone on the same page is vital.”

Here, Sackler and Peter Landry, Director of Life Insurance at Wells Fargo Advisors in Charlotte, North Carolina, offer their strategy for building a top-notch planning team.

Why assemble a team?

“You’re creating a well-rounded experience,” says Landry. “Think of the three financial pillars — investing, liability management, and protection. Having a team of professional advisors, including insurance specialists, can help you achieve your goals.”

When should you get started?

As early as possible, agree Sackler and Landry. “To get everything aligned from the onset makes the most sense,” says Sackler. Adds Landry: “It’s never too early. Your needs are going to look different at different points in time, so maybe it’s a smaller team when you’re younger, and you add more players to the table at the point when you’ve met your own objectives and are starting to think about how to leave a legacy.”

“Think of the three financial pillars — investing, liability management, and protection. Having a team of professional advisors, including insurance specialists, can help you achieve your goals.”

— Peter Landry, Director of Life Insurance, Wells Fargo Advisors

Who should be on your team?

A personal network of trusted advisors should include your Financial Advisor, an insurance specialist, a banking professional, a tax specialist or CPA, and an attorney, say Sackler and Landry. Everyone has their own specialty, and your needs help dictate what roles you need filled. “You should have a formal relationship with people you trust and who fit with your personal style,” says Landry. “And you’ve got to find someone who can be a good listener and understand what’s important to you, as well as provide the right concepts and solutions.”

What can you do if your team is not performing?

“It can feel as uncomfortable as a marriage not working — that frustration when things simply are not being completed as quickly or satisfyingly as they used to be,” says Sackler of the red flags to look for as your personal network of advisors evolves. When you feel the relationship isn’t working, it’s best to simply interview potential replacements and collaborate with family members and the members of your team that you plan to keep. This process will keep the lines of communication open and help you assemble a new and improved team that better meets your financial needs.

How do you keep your team on the same page?

“New technology, such as online interactive client videos, can be beneficial for identifying specific financial products you may need at your current life stage,” explains Landry. “But clear communication about a holistic strategy begins with in-person meetings at least once or twice a year,” says Sackler. “I really like face-to-face meetings and then conference calls. I also like to follow up with emails on which everyone is copied so that we are all aligned.”

Once you’ve assembled that team, it’s important to use it to its best capabilities. If you’re receiving conflicting advice, bring everyone together. Ultimately, it’s your financial future, and your team should be working on your behalf to help make your life easier. 

Sarah Tuff Dunn is a freelance writer in Vermont and a frequent contributor to Lifescapes. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times.

Additional Resources

Learn what to expect when working with your Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Advisor.