As all the children in our community are getting ready to go back to school, I am reflecting on my week back in the classroom this summer. I was lucky enough to spend time at the Chicago Booth School of Business learning from the country’s leading practitioners in estate and tax planning. Earlier this year, I set a goal to take some time away from our daily practice to re-educate and make sure we are utilizing the best tools possible to serve our clients. After six months of private study, and hearing from industry leaders who serve high-net-worth families, I am excited about the experience we provide at Ballast. Here are a few takeaways from my time back in school.
1. Independent advisory firms like Ballast provide the best experience available.
As I learned from classmates across the industry, advisors who work for publicly listed banks, insurance companies, and wirehouses sometimes lack the flexibility to best serve their clients.
2. Our industry is trending toward specialization.
I met advisors who work with one type of client (e.g., employees of one public company). While I’m sure that advisor knows that company’s stock plan better than anyone, I am thankful for variety, both for my sanity and so we can apply diverse experiences across the families we serve.
3. Plenty of people need advice who are not getting it.
Despite the existence of thousands of independent firms like Ballast in the US, less than a quarter of high-net-worth families seek professional advice. Successful families and business owners are making big errors due to missed opportunities. We have a passion for solving problems and knowing how much our advice can help makes me excited to wake up each day.
4. Psychological and behavioral consulting are critically and increasingly important.
You may have heard me joke that we have considered bringing my wife, a therapist, on staff, since so many of the conversations that we have about money are at their root about communication, family dynamics, and how best to share one’s values.
5. A lack of communication and coordination within families is killing generational wealth.
Over 70% of inherited wealth doesn’t make it past the second generation, and over 90% doesn’t make it past the third. This is because, even when parents have great plans, they are not engaging their heirs and preparing them for the responsibility of stewarding wealth. A great start for any family is a family meeting to discuss values and goals, with or without numbers. We would be thrilled to host one for any family we serve.
6. We are not providing enough financial education to the next generation.
The best age to start a financial education is ages 7 to 13, with basic counting, then earning, saving, and budgeting. We need to be purposeful as our movement away from cash to digital payments has eliminated most hands-on money experiences.
7. Speaking of my wife, the therapist, she is the best.
When I was in Chicago, my one-year-old decided she would only sleep in the middle of the floor for two-hour stretches. I can’t thank her enough for her support!
Cameron Hamilton, CPWA®, CFP®, MBA, Director of Financial Planning at Ballast in Lexington, KY, recently earned the Certified Private Wealth Advisor® certification, which is an advanced professional certification for advisors who provide the breadth of specialized skills required to meet the needs of high-net-worth clients. Cameron has worked at Ballast since 2013 and leads the research and implementation of high-level planning strategies for the families and clients served.