The value of the holistic approach

By focusing on a variety of services for clients, advisors can truly provide peace of mind, writes Mark Bertoli

The value of the holistic approach

“Live, love, laugh, leave a legacy.” This quote from Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, is beautiful, simple and well stated. It’s sometimes hard to believe, but when you look at life through this lens, it really is that simple.

This speaks to the heart of our mission statement at Abbott Wealth Management: “We improve lives.” But how do you improve lives of a diverse mix of clients, from those just getting started in their careers to those newly retired? Holistic wealth management is the key.

Holistic wealth management, in our definition, means looking at the complete wealth management picture for our clients. It is our belief that wealth, and the accumulation of it, is nothing more than the storehouse of energy. This energy can be used later in life for enjoyment, retirement or to provide security now and for future generations. We’ve found that conversations focused on material wealth accumulation are often the extent of a wealth management plan.

Our industry tends to think of wealth as the accumulation of assets. By definition, though, wealth has a much broader meaning than “an abundance of valuable possessions” or “a plentiful supply of a particular desirable thing.”

The key words here are ‘valuable’ and ‘plentiful supply.’ As advisors, if our goal is to improve lives, it makes sense to expand our scope of offerings so we can ensure that things of value are truly in plentiful supply.

When we were trying to figure out what holistic wealth management would look like for our clients, we had a blank slate with a focus on the end in mind, thinking of the outcomes that would be of most value to our clients. We asked ourselves if we could improve lives if we provided the following: peace of mind in all financial matters, health planning advice to aid in longevity, security no matter what the circumstance, philanthropic advice to help others and leave a legacy, lifestyle and coaching advice to improve quality of life, and estate planning to ensure security for future generations.

By engaging in conversations with clients, we have learned that people tend to worry about the grey areas or the unknown. Those 3 a.m. thoughts clients have when they can’t sleep usually centre around a few basic questions: Will I have enough? Will it last? And what happens if it doesn’t?

Clients tell us they think about security for their families and the possibility of unforeseen health issues. They contemplate what the future holds for the next generation and what their own futures will look like if financial markets decline after they have retired and have lost the ability to earn an income.

By taking a holistic approach to wealth management, we have created a systematic program to address all those questions, thoughts and concerns. Our clients appreciate a scheduled, multi-step, multi-meeting approach to provide them with solutions. We also have an annual review audit to reinforce the security of their plan.

Recently, I was asked by a group of people what I did for work. I responded with a question and a statement: “Do you know those thoughts and questions that keep you awake at 3 a.m.?” I asked. Everyone nodded – they knew exactly what I was talking about. Then I said, “I work with families to address those concerns and answer those questions, giving them a game plan for their peace of mind.”

As financial advisors, we have an incredible responsibility and a unique opportunity to make a difference in our clients’ lives. Few occupations allow for the development of the relationships we have with our clients. With discipline and commitment, advisors can collectively improve lives by incorporating holistic wealth and truly providing value. Let us all strive to help our clients and their families rest easy and focus on that simple goal: to live, laugh, love and leave a legacy.

Mark Bertoli is an IIROC advisor and a partner at Abbott Wealth Management with a background in operations and commercial real estate development. He is also a volunteer with Rotary International and the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce.