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Financial advisers 'most trusted' HNW wealth managers, Coutts survey finds

From News Jul 22 2013 BY: Ann-Marie Corvin , Reporter , International Adviser

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Most HNW individuals trust financial advisers over all other types of wealth manager, according to a report published today by private bank and wealth manager Coutts.

The survey, 'behind closed doors of inheriting the family wealth', collated the views of 270 millionaires (those with at least £1m in liquid assets) and found that over three quarters relied on advisers to help them manage their wealth, with just over a third (34%) citing advisers as their most trusted source.

‘Family friends’ were the second most popular choice (15%) with accountants (14%) and lawyers (13%) closely following. Only 6% cited ‘family office’ services while another 9% simply denoted their preferred wealth manager as ‘other’.

The report found that many families preferred not to deal with big organisations where they could be dealing with a wide range of people, many of whom they might only ever speak to once.

As the report stated: “They want a consistent, long-term, one-to-one relationship with an adviser who will be available to speak with them regularly.”

However, the report also added that many families raised concerns about the level of skills and ability of advisers.

"Those with relationships with small firms often found that as their wealth had grown, it stretched the ability of their advisers to cope with the demands of providing accurate and helpful advice," it stated.

The report also noted that: “Families also want the opportunity to use the experience of their advisers to learn about how other families are dealing with the transition of wealth."

While parents are often keen for their children to use the same advisers as them, only 17% of those surveyed stated that their children know or have a relationship with their advisers. While 29% of children surveyed want to forge their own relationships, the majority are open-minded about using their parents’ advisers, provided they can trust, rely on and relate to them.

Elsewhere, the report warned that in general, HNW individuals are not taking enough measures to preserve their wealth for future generations, with multiple marriages, secrecy over the size of fortune and a lack of up-to-date wills only fuelling the problem.

The survey revealed that one third of respondents (37%) admitted to suffering serious conflict within the family when it came to dividing up the money and assets and over half (58%) did not have an up-to-date will in place.

It also revealed that one fifth of parents were keeping their true wealth a secret from their children over fears it will quash any aspirations they may have, or protect them from inadvertently revealing too much information to people who may then befriend them ‘for the wrong reasons’

Despite this, barely a quarter (23%) of parents would consider insisting on or even raising the idea of a prenuptial agreement to inheritors, despite divorce rates of 42% in the UK.

The survey pointed out that inheritance planning is further complicated by multiple marriages. In the UK, 46% of marriages are subsequent marriages which result in around 2.5 million step-children.

Another key concern for HNW families were tax issues, with 56% of HNW individuals worried that they pay too much tax.  For those who have recently earned their wealth, inheritance tax (IHT) is seen as a major issue. Many feel that, having already paid income tax, capital gains tax and other taxes on their wealth, paying up to 40% in IHT on top is unfair and could place a burden on the next generation.

Those who have inherited wealth meanwhile, were more familiar with tax implications, and while they often regard it as unfair, they have more time and experience to plan sufficiently for the transition ahead.

Regular changes to tax and trust laws were also a concern for many, making long-term planning a challenge, especially for complex estates.

Other key findings:
  • It‘s estimated that £1 trillion will pass down from one generation to the next over the next 20 years in the UK
  • Family Wealth must grow 87% over 25 years to break even
  • Nearly half of all the UK’s HNW individuals remain undecided on how best to divide up their estate between heirs
  • One in 33 families still opt to pass on wealth to the eldest male
  • 30%of HNW individuals begin their wealth preservation plans after the age of 55


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