What’s the Difference Between Wealth Management and Financial Planning?

There’s financial planning, and then there’s wealth management. Think of wealth management as a step up from garden-variety financial planning. One office provides a range of services for a client: personal financial planning and investment management, tax reduction and estate planning strategies, and occasionally in-house legal resources. Business continuation planning, tax preparation and even budgeting and bill paying are sometimes added to the menu.

The difference is really big-picture. Financial planning usually means creating a strategy for accumulating wealth for retirement and personal goals. Investment management focuses on managing financial assets with a performance level in mind. Wealth management, in comparison, considers the total net worth of a family, a couple or an individual. It weighs financial decisions in light of an investment portfolio and additional components of the financial picture such as real estate, insurance, a business, charitable gifting and more.

Yet it is also about paying attention to detail. Every successful professional or business owner reaches a point of delegation – there comes a point at which you can’t do it all yourself. Indeed, it can be hazardous to try and keep track of every detail without help. The same goes for your finances – your taxes, your investments, your various accounts.

Good wealth management helps you stay on top of things. A skilled wealth management firm pays attention to many of the financial details in your life for you. You can free up your mind. You feel confident because the wealth management firm has an ongoing relationship with you, with regular reviews and communication.

Wealth management unites advisors from different disciplines as a team. The team looks at your goals, needs and priorities to determine the right, individualized strategy for guiding your invested assets and enhancing your net worth.

When is it time for wealth management? If you have too many financial concerns, issues or priorities to address by yourself, then it is certainly time for this kind of financial care. And even if your financial life is less complex, significant wealth calls for a vigilant, ongoing management approach.

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  • A good friend of mine was asking me the other day about my plans for retirement and I realized I don’t know a lot about financial planning or wealth management. I had no idea that wealth management is typically for people who have too many financial concerns to address all by themselves. If I ever were in a position where I needed that, I would definitely want to put my mind at ease and find a way to delegate my priorities. Thank you for the helpful information!

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  • I didn’t realize that there was much of a difference between financial planning and wealth management. Either way, I think it may be wise to consult with a financial professional who can help you come up with a good plan for your finances. I’ve always felt that the best way to make good use of your money is to have a plan and budget established early on, regardless of how much money you have.

  • I am a recent retiree and receiving Social Security benefits. I have three retirement related accounts – 401k, SEP, and an Annunity. I am inclined to combine the three accounts into possible one for simplication of management.

    I need some recommendations on possible instruments for conversion which will offer 1)access for monthly withdrawal, 2) conservative investments, 3)low fees, and 4) readily availability to cash on a as needed basis.

    Currently, my living expenses are provided by Social Security and savings. I desire to have income from my retirement accounts rather than continuous withdrawals from savings.


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