The traditional way of working with clients in the wealth management profession has been binary: one client to
one advisor. Referred to as the “silo approach,” clients only know their one advisor, with all communication and advice coming through him or her.
Traditional doesn’t cut it at Woodward, nor does doing something just because that’s “the way it’s always been done.” Whether it’s our culture, business processes, compensation model or team structure, we strive to be the best and align all elements with what is best for our clients, which often results in our being unique compared to most of the wealth management industry.
Accordingly, we’ve always viewed each client as a client of the firm and not any one individual team member. And instead of the traditional silo approach, Woodward has advisory
teams. Each client has a team of three advisors: a Lead Advisor, a Senior Financial Planner, and a Financial Planning Associate.
We require that each of these three advisors be a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional (or working towards fulfilling the requirements), which is the gold standard of designations in our profession. Each advisory
team is further supported by a Client Service Associate and other support staff.
We structure client relationships this way for a variety of reasons, including:
Multiple sets of eyes and ears – one advisor will often see something different and offer a unique perspective, be that in a meeting, while reviewing a tax return, or while simply responding to an emailed question. By working as a team, we effectively take off the “blinders” to potential alternatives that even the most seasoned siloed advisor might inadvertently be wearing.
Continuity – we strongly advocate for this with clients in their financial plans…shouldn’t we hold ourselves to the same standards? If an advisor is away on vacation, at a conference, in a meeting, or gets hit by the proverbial bus, then a Woodward Financial Advisors client still has two other professionals that know his or her unique situation and can continue to offer personalized advice, service and support.
Career paths – to attract and retain great people, we need to invest in them and offer compelling growth opportunities. Having different career options allows us to reward our team for great work and find a role that fits well with their desired professional aspirations.
Few – if any – advisory firms establish dedicated teams with three CFP® practitioners. Matching clients to a single advisor might be more “efficient” from a firm standpoint. But we don’t think it would be the best situation for our clients, and that’s not who we are. If you have any questions about Woodward’s unique team structure or know someone that would benefit from having an advisory team working on their behalf, please let us know.
Written by James Miller, CFP