HCR Wealth Advisors’ 5 Questions to Ask a Financial Advisor

Few people ask about the philosophy of a financial advisory group before deciding who to hire. Yet, that’s the driving force behind every recommendation that advisors will make to their clients.

In the case of HCR Wealth Advisors, that philosophy grew out of a pivotal experience of its Founder and CEO, Greg Heller. Greg’s career started at a brokerage firm where the focus was on the products and services the firm had to sell to its clients.

All too often, he saw brokers giving priority to what most benefited the firm and not the client. It was a case of trying to fit a round peg in a square hole, and the loser always seemed to be the client. When starting HCR Wealth Advisors soon after that, he was determined to right that wrong.

What is the driving philosophy of the financial advisory firm?

In his company’s case, Greg Heller’s motivation was to create a firm that paid more than lip service to the motto of “clients first.” Its core company principles would consist of truly putting clients first in any decision-making and giving the most comprehensive and unbiased advice possible.

What is the driving philosophy of the financial advisory firm?

Heller also realized that, if the company wanted to establish life-long relationships with its clients, it had to include education in its primary offerings. And while education requires time — especially when offered on a one-on-one basis — it would be an investment in building the all-important trust a relationship requires.

Yet, it is an investment that many companies are unwilling to make.

Understanding the nature of trusted relationships has been proven invaluable. HCR Wealth Advisors has grown from a 2-person, family-operated financial services boutique to an SEC-registered Investment Advisory (or RIA) firm managing over a billion dollars in client assets. All that without having to compromise the philosophy that initially launched the firm.

Does the financial advisory firm treat its clients as unique individuals?

Every client walks a unique life path: no two clients or two life transitions are the same. HCR Wealth Advisors takes all life factors — not just financial considerations — into account when advising a client around life changes and life’s surprise curveballs. It considers multiple options and possibilities based on a client’s situation, totally unconstrained by proprietary investment products.

The result is an objective, empathetic and collaborative relationship and a tailored financial plan that evolves with the client.

Are clients being served by an individual or by an entire team of professionals?

What truly differentiates HCR Wealth Advisors is the client experience. The firm’s clients have access to a full team of professionals, all of whom are committed to making the most of the team environment. The result is a firm with extremely low turnover and high retention, so clients can count on seeing familiar faces along their financial journey.

Does the advisor have a clear framework that ensures a client’s success?

In the uncertain environment brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, more clients than ever are seeking help in defining the future. They feel enveloped by a thick fog. To help cut through that fog, HCR Wealth Advisors has developed an innovative financial management framework: The Clarity Formula®.

The firm’s client service process — The Clarity Formula® — encompasses all the steps a client will encounter on their financial journey. Whether it is guidance towards financial freedom or confronting a significant life event like a divorce, unexpected retirement or loss of a loved one, the framework provides a comprehensive, transparent, and highly customizable map that gives a client the perspective and insight needed to continue moving forward with confidence.

The true value of HCR Wealth Advisors’ service is how it walks a client step-by-step through the process, customizing a roadmap for the client and the client’s money along the way.

Here are the eight pillars that make up its financial services:

  • Financial Planning
  • Investment Management
  • Estate Planning
  • Risk Management
  • Tax Strategies
  • Cash Management
  • Charitable Giving
  • Value-Added Services

How the eight pillars of financial services are applied to clients

Many firms will create a company-wide cookie-cutter program for its clients, perhaps tweaking it to reflect the client’s portfolio’s size. Instead, HCR Wealth Advisors considers all of the pillars, but selectively applies only those that pertain to each client’s specific set of circumstances.

The following are examples of five distinct clients and the combinations of financial services that could be applied to them:

Athletes’ unique earning patterns make it critical to understand their needs and long-term goals beyond their active playing days. A well-designed portfolio can make the transition to life after sports seamless and set a client up for the long term.

HCR Wealth Advisors can call on its extensive network of resources to offer value-added services, such as identifying additional income opportunities that increase net worth, community presence and reputation. If charitable giving is part of the plan, HCR Wealth Advisors uses its knowledge of philanthropic opportunities to help a client give back while keeping finances well diversified.

Using the tax strategies appropriate for large incomes, the firm provides more than just tax guidance. It can provide access to top CPAs to ensure creative solutions based on safe, in-depth analysis. It also acts as a financial education resource that can help a client and the client’s inner circle stay financially responsible.

Personal finances can include financial planning, estate planning, and investment management. Most of all, retirement planning will help a client maintain a preferred lifestyle in retirement.

Cash management strategies might cover day-to-day transactions, liquidity management and escrow services. The firm’s concierge service offers a vast network of financial professionals to provide laser-focused, individualized advice. Risk management and exit strategies are also services available to the business.

From the outset, HCR Wealth Advisors’ professionals can provide an overview of what to expect in the short and long term, including settlement scenarios and their impact on a client’s financial future.

HCR Wealth Advisors’ team of professionals will be available to provide support, education, and advice that meet a client’s financial and emotional needs. Significant adjustments are likely to be needed in cash management, financial planning and estate planning to reflect a client’s new status.

Tax strategies that maximize income and minimize taxation, both in the short term and later on in retirement, will require adjustments. And innovative charitable giving strategies could become part of a workable taxation plan.

Investment management will likely prioritize income and tax strategies for structuring distributions, contributions, deductions and exemptions that minimize a client’s tax burden.

Long-term plans will include sustainable financial plans that factor in healthcare expenses, assisted living, and other care-driven services. And, lastly, estate planning can guarantee a wealth transfer strategy that reflects a client’s wishes.

Assistance in current finances can range from tax strategies to cash management to be sure that all stakeholders are treated fairly. At the same time, budgets for expenses are structured to preserve family wealth.

Investment management can extend beyond its traditional definition to deal with tax-advantaged savings accounts such as college-funding 529 plans. The goal is to be sure a client’s children are set up to succeed in school and life.

Estate planning can entail the transitioning of wealth, plus the technical demands and the family dynamics involved. The goal of succession planning is to facilitate a smooth transition. HCR Wealth Advisors believes such a service should extend to the education and support of a client’s beneficiaries and heirs so that future generation will receive the most benefit from a client’s gift.

How HCR Wealth Advisors differs from other advisory firms

HCR Wealth Advisors refuses to be influenced by any consideration beyond the needs of its clients and of their families. It follows four important, self-imposed rules to maintain objectivity and integrity:

  • It does not accept commissions from mutual fund companies or money managers.
  • It provides proprietary, personalized strategies but does not employ the use of proprietary products.
  • It follows an advisory model that allows its guidance to be agnostic.
  • It ensures that all of its clients’ accounts reside at SIPC-insured institutions.

Combining such discipline with the vast benefits of The Clarity Formula® is what assures that HCR Wealth Advisors’ clients will be in the caring hands of a unique brand of financial advisors.

Originally published at https://homebusinessmag.com on October 22, 2020.

*This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered investment advice.