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Michael Kitces' #FASuccess Podcast: Coventry Edwards-Pitt on Helping Multigenerational Families

Ballentine Partners' Coventry Edwards-Pitt details the problems that very large sums of money can exacerbate rather than solve.



Welcome back to the 219th episode of the Financial Advisor Success podcast!

My guest on today’s podcast is Coventry Edwards-Pitt. Covie is the chief wealth advisory officer at Ballentine Partners, a wealth management firm headquartered in Waltham, Mass., that oversees nearly $8 billion for just over 230 ultra-wealthy families.

What’s unique about Covie, though, is that when her firm has almost $8 billion of AUM for “just” 230 family households, it means their average client has almost $35 million of investable assets … and as a result, Covie’s firm has a unique focus on the issues that reach beyond “just” doing a great job when it comes to the technical aspects of wealth management, and to the problems that very large sums of money can exacerbate rather than solve, helping families navigate the decisions that can affect multiple generations … and the unintended consequences those decisions often have when not carefully considered first.

In this episode, we talk in depth about how Covie helps ultra-wealthy families (many of whom did not “come from money” and have suddenly found themselves in uncharted parenting waters after experiencing a liquidity event) pass along valuable lessons about money when default parenting scripts about limits—like “we can’t buy that because we can’t afford it”—suddenly don’t hold sway anymore, what Covie has learned about children from ultra-wealthy families who are well rounded (and well grounded), and the common experiences they share around gaining a foundational sense of self-esteem and achievement outside of what they were born into, and why Covie and team at Ballentine may not introduce these deeper discussions until years after the client relationship begins and once all the initial complex technical wealth management work has been done (and clients are ready to have those more personal money conversations).

We also talk about how Ballentine Partners organizes its own internal structure around Senior Client Advisors, who both manage the client relationships as both “generalist experts” and also lead internal Knowledge Management Teams and service a client load of “just” 10 to 15 ultra-high-net-worth (and ultra-complex and high-service) clients, why the firm settled on an annual flat fee structure at the family office level (and the myriad topics and issues that the firm covers with clients), and the matrix structure that the firm employs to be able to build the sort of institutional knowledge that comes from managing 230 ultra-high-net-worth family relationships.

And be sure to listen to the end, where Covie shares her own journey that eventually led her into a senior role at an ultra-high-net-worth firm, how the challenges of trying to help families where family relationships had already been damaged were part of what pushed her to write two books about the wealthy, and why it was the pursuit of her passion around writing that helped open new doors both for herself and for her firm in the first place.

So whether you’re interested in learning what it’s like to work with ultra-high-net-worth clients, why it’s the deeper conversations around helping them raise well-grounded children that really differentiates a firm like Covie’s, or how such a firm structures itself and its fees, then we hope you enjoy this episode of the Financial Advisor Success podcast.

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