We define wealth management as the collection of decisions about whether – and when – to save, spend, or share wealth, particularly around life’s big moments or Money Milestones.
The vast majority of the families we are privileged to work with lead very full lives including professional endeavors, children, aging parents and extended family, philanthropic/community involvement, and personal wellness. They work with Via Global so that they can spend more of their finite time on the things that matter most to them.
To optimize the guidance we give your family, we welcome collaboration with your other advisors. Most of our clients have limited time to manage information flows and coordinate activity amongst their advisors and rely on us to handle that critical role. These advisors often include estate planning and other attorneys, accountants, insurance brokers; and for our clients who are senior executives, valuation experts, corporate general counsel, and other C-suite professionals.
Indeed, we subscribe to Joy’s Law: “No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else… It is better to create an ecosystem that gets all the world’s smartest people toiling in your garden for your goals.” (Bill Joy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems)
Absolutely. We take a broad view of your financial assets, and one of our key deliverables is a comprehensive Financial Snapshot that details assets in your estate (marketable securities, illiquid assets, business interests, 401ks and other retirement accounts), tangible assets (such as personal real estate and art) as well as assets outside your outside your estate (including 529 plans for college savings and charitable entities).
We offer flexible pricing arrangements based on the scope of services you require, the complexity of your particular situation, and how you prefer to work with us. Our pricing structure is based on what is most appropriate for you and is either a percentage of assets under advisement, an annual retainer, or a combination of both.
Fees paid by our client families are our only revenue source as we do not sell any investment or insurance products. We are fiduciaries and do not receive any product fees from third parties.
Via’s preferred custodians are Fidelity Investments and Charles Schwab & Co. A custodian holds our clients’ marketable securities (stocks, bonds, and cash). More specifically, a custodian settles transactions, collects dividends/interest, and generates monthly statements and tax documents. Clients generally authorize Via Global to act on their behalf in transactions with their custodians. Unlike some other firms, we do not self-custody because we think that self-custody arrangements reduce transparency and do not serve our clients’ best interests.
A key part of learning about your current situation involves understanding where your assets are currently held, your tax situation, and other relevant details. With that information, we create a thoughtful, tax-sensitive transition plan. We are typically able to consolidate the majority of a family’s current (marketable) investments to one of our preferred custodians without liquidating them, avoiding both transaction costs and taxable gains or losses.
While Via Global does not give tax (or legal) advice, we coordinate closely with our clients’ tax advisors to understand the likely tax implications of their financial decisions. The biggest single expense that our family clients incur is tax liabilities, and we continually strive to minimize client tax burden.
Rarely Asked Questions
A corner case occurs at the far ends of a normal distribution curve. At Via Global, a “corner case” is a situation that falls outside the norm for a given client. Our 20+ years of collective expertise helps us successfully tackle corner cases for our clients.
S&P Indices Versus Active (SPIVA®) Scorecards are a measure of actively managed funds relative to their relevant S&P index benchmarks. Per our analysis; (1) over short- and long-term time periods, actively managed funds have tended to underperform their benchmarks; and (2) even when certain actively managed funds in a specific category do outperform the benchmark over a single time period, they usually fail to outperform over multiple periods as performance reverts to the mean. Our SPIVA analysis informs our decision to use index-based funds to construct core investment portfolios.
Abraham Maslow, the sociologist known for the theory of the hierarchy of needs, observed that “… It is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail." Maslow’s Hammer is a cognitive bias that involves over-reliance on one tool for multiple purposes. We frequently see Maslow’s Hammer employed by wealth management firms that sell their own investment products, treating the firm’s proprietary products as hammers (and their client portfolios as nails).
The payout grid is the driver of a broker’s compensation in certain Wall Street firms and is often kept secret from clients. Per the payout grid, the most common variables of broker pay include total production credits or commissions earned, types of products sold, and new asset accumulation. Production credits typically equal the sales charges embedded in (revenues earned on) a given client transaction. Types of production credits include:
- Commissions on a transaction,
- Markups or markdowns that a client pays on a transaction in which the brokerage firm fulfills the order from its own inventory.
- Sales charges embedded in the pricing of certain mutual funds such as front-end, level, delayed, or back-end loads
- “Flavor of the month” credits to stimulate sales of securities in the firm’s inventory.
Per Merriam-Webster, Rube Goldberg* (used as an adjective) means “accomplishing by complex means what seemingly could be done simply.” In wealth management, a Rube Goldberg approach is characterized by expensive, confusing, and overly complex investments and financial strategies. At Via Global, try to take the opposite approach to constructing portfolios and achieving a family’s intentions.
*One of the few people to be listed in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as an adjective, Rube Goldberg was an American cartoonist known for illustrations portraying complicated gadgets performing straightforward tasks.