It’s challenging to explain compliance requirements without upsetting clients’ sensibilities

Date: 11 Nov 2015

Bumblebee Design

Glen Atchison (left), managing partner, and Chris Moorcroft (right), senior associate at Harbottle & Lewis, say that explaining compliance requirements to the influx of UHNWs from countries with less well established tax regimes, has become a key part of their role.

What are your three best tips for developing trust with a UHNW client?

Always endeavour to ensure that any advice is practicable and makes their lives easier. UHNWs tend to be extremely time-poor and appreciate anyone that makes their lives simpler, rather than more complex.
Be realistic and competitive on pricing. Never assume that UHNWs are willing to pay any more than other clients simply because of their wealth. Notwithstanding this, remember that UHNWs expect a premium service and will expect such service immediately when required, day or night.
Never try to aggressively sell to UHNWs and certainly avoid selling anything that they don’t need. Also, be particularly careful before introducing UHNWs to institutions that will try to sell products to them. UHNWs might not thank you.

How do you deal with the younger UHNW clients?

More than ever, younger UHNWs are focused on the next challenge. In many cases, that is the next business venture, or the next million, but that is not always the case, so never assume too much.
We noticed that millennials are more interested than baby boomers in philanthropy. They are also ever more mobile in terms of where they choose to live and work.

Have you noticed any shifts in the private client work in the past five years?

Yes, most definitely a very clear trend away from complex or aggressive tax planning and structuring, and any ‘retail’ tax planning. UHNWs have been influenced by what they have heard and read over the past few years and responded by concentrating more on the need to be compliant and keeping things simple wherever possible.

Have you needed to broaden your knowledge of different ethnic customs and religious beliefs to win new UHNW clients?

Yes, to some extent. For example, in areas like sharia-compliant wealth planning. The key is to respect people’s beliefs and look for ways to use existing techniques to accommodate people’s religious objectives. Sometimes this requires greater creativity.
More generally, with the influx of UHNWs that have become wealthy only recently and often from countries with less well established tax regimes, dealing sensitively when explaining the greater compliance requirements and complexities without upsetting their sensibilities has become an important part of an adviser’s role.

What do UHNW clients need to watch out for when deciding to change their wealth manager or adviser?

UHNWs’ affairs tend to be extremely complex and it is essential that any new adviser takes time to understand the background nuances so that they can provide appropriate solutions. Avoid wealth managers or advisers that push tax and financial products or offer ‘retail’ solutions to bespoke issues. The best place to search is always through referrals from trusted advisers and friends.