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Advising Beyond the Money

Helping HNW clients with lifestyle-based needs.

Family office resources generally extend beyond managing investments and capital allocation. Financial advisors of high-net-worth clients should have a high level of awareness of the specific needs of individuals and families in this segment—from financial to lifestyle choices. One area where we have seen an increase in requests for recommendations is private security services, and advisors have an opportunity to educate clients and their children on safety precautions for day-to-day life as well as travel away from home.

Tracking the trend: What has led to the rise in interest in private security among HNW clients in recent months?

Given recent global events, we have noticed that our clients are increasingly cautious of their safety, wellbeing, and property than they have been in years past. In turn, there are an increasing number of requests for private security solutions from HNW clients. Personal security can include solutions for the client themselves in day-to-day life, or for specific instances like their children studying abroad or traveling extensively.

Starting the conversation: How advisors can approach the subject with clients, and how to recommend the right partner who will help a family determine what measures to take

Looking at a client’s whole picture, security needs often extend beyond one’s physical self. By providing or resourcing both personal and cyber security, advisors’ clients may have access to providers which can address reasonable threats to their physical and financial wellbeing, which may be mitigated by taking reasonable precautions. Family offices and private wealth advisors can provide education and resources that enable access to safeguarding for clients, their assets, and their personal information.

Having a conversation with clients about these topics may be a delicate task. It can require skill, sensitivity, and tactful organization. It may be useful to share information about what your practice does to protect its clients, teach families about the resources available to them for risk-aware living, and set up times to discuss best practices for safely managing themselves, their families, and their wealth.

It may be helpful to find out what risks your clients face - are they primarily physical, financial, or technological? It also may be beneficial to ensure that the conversation is tailored to each family, providing a carefully curated toolkit for staying safe and secure. This keeps your advice relevant while encouraging the client to take it to heart.

Setting clients up for success abroad: How advisors can educate clients and their children on safe travel and awareness when away from home.

International travel can be a wonderful experience for all involved, both for business and leisure. However, the unfortunate reality is that there are places abroad where the risk of crime (or terrorism) may be high, and you may be able to provide resources to your clients so they can take extra precautions when traveling abroad.

In addition to crime, there are other unique roadblocks that your clients may encounter. For example, some countries may require visitors to get a special visa before entering the country; others may have strict customs regulations for bringing in certain items; and still others may have poor infrastructure (telecommunications, political). There are certain geographies with more dangerous environments and preparing for natural disasters is an important piece of the planning puzzle to consider.

While not as shiny as booking hotels and activities, the duller parts of planning a luxury trip - the technicalities of security tracking, document preparation, or contingency planning - can be crucial, whether for a domestic or international travel plan. You may be able to take some of the stress out of planning by going over safety reports for the geographic locations that your clients are considering or already planning to visit, making sure all information is accessible and comprehensive and suggest that your clients establish a protocol in the event of evacuations or extractions from countries.

In addition, you can provide resources to your clients about social media, so clients and their families may educate themselves about keeping personal information secure, as well as resources about the best ways to keep communications safe, how to avoid scams, and what to do in the case of an emergency.

Exercise: When sharing these options with clients, have an open and honest conversation about their needs and concerns. Ask them to force rank the following services to determine actionable next steps:

  • Personal protection (Bodyguard);
  • Emergency disaster planning;
  • Home security system assessment;
  • Parameter security;
  • Household staff background investigations;
  • Neighborhood context;
  • Penetration testing;
  • Incident response (including cyber risk and risk to persons);
  • Social media education awareness;
  • Ethical breaches and hacks;
  • Security audits;
  • Information security assessment;
  • Family business security training/screening;
  • Cybersecurity assessment;
  • Identity theft remediation;
  • Secure communications and collaboration;
  • Secure private storage solutions;
  • Protection of intellectual property;
  • Secure Virtual Private Networks (VPNs);
  • Training in cybersecurity best practices (personal, business, and mobile devices);
  • International travel in high-risk country reports;
  • Subscription-based security tracking; domestic and international;
  • Evacuations and extractions from hostel countries;
  • Social media education awareness; and
  • Niche insurance solutions (Kidnap and Ransom, Cybersecurity) as a way to mitigate financial risk

Valerie Wong Fountain is Managing Director, Head of FOR Platform & Partner Management at Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management.

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