The Time to Start Planning Your Wealth is Now
We speak with Óscar Cousillas, Partner and General Manager of Miura Trust, part of the Miura Group with a presence in the US, Switzerland, Panama and Spain. Óscar works exclusively with Wealth Planning clients in the US, Latin America and Europe and shares his insights into the industry with us below.
Who needs help with wealth planning?
In my view, everyone should look for advice on wealth management or succession planning. Each individual case is different and understanding your options early on will help match your ambitions and aspirations with actions.
Today, it is very common to get consultant services for financial investments either through a financial adviser, reviewing prestigious publications or listening to experts. This has become a mundane practice as it is tangible and it yields short- term gains that make it even more attractive. On the other hand, long-term wealth management is perceived as something in the distant future that is often not that optimistic and appealing to individuals.
Let me share an example that helps illustrate the different options and recommendations that adapt to different circumstances. If we have a person who is a US citizen, lives in the US and is married once with two kids. This is quite a different profile that might not need the same level of depth as a person who isn’t a US passport holder, lives in a different country, is divorced and has children from different marriages, as well as a family-run business with siblings. Both individuals will benefit from wealth management. However, the tools and services offered to each will be different.The core target audience for wealth management is residents in countries that are going through political and/or economic turmoil. It is a common practice for these individuals to invest their wealth in a different country than the one of their origin to ensure they can protect their wealth. They do so to ensure that their wealth will be managed according to their wants and needs and will be protected from local contexts.
Unfortunately, in my experience, most people do not realise the importance of wealth management until they are more mature in life or retired. It is never late, but at this stage of life, it is usually late to maximise the benefits, flexibility and outcome that can be managed with a long-term outlook. The pandemic has helped many of us realise how vulnerable we are and how quickly our lives can change. I hope that as we go back to a new normal, people keep this top of mind and reflect on planning their future to ensure it is aligned with their expectations and aspirations.
What are the key mistakes people make?
From my perspective, there are three common mistakes. The first and most common is that people think that there is a “one size fits all” solution. Word of mouth is usually a great way to spread information but when it comes to wealth planning, some people want to replicate what they have heard from families, partners, friends or neighbours. The reality is that usually each individual’s situation, wants and needs are different and therefore the “best” outcome of the planning can be quite different from case to case.
A second common mistake is to think that once the planning is done, it is done for good and it should not be revisited. This is not accurate as our personal context, the economic environment, and the laws and regulations can change, and we might need to adapt to meet the trustees’ goals.
Finally, sometimes and even without bad intentions, some local advisers or accounting advisers that are close to the individual can begin to provide advice based on what they have heard. However, in many instances, this may not be their camp of expertise and they can provide misleading information or generate false perceptions of what would or wouldn’t work for the individual.
When working with a wealth management specialist, you will be guaranteed that you’re looking beyond the context of today. An experienced professional will recommend solutions that make sense for the future while minimising any associated risks. They’ll look for alternatives that result in saving money and avoiding future bureaucracy and unnecessary costs.
An international wealth planner is a qualified professional that not only has the precise knowledge of local regulations for each individual but also those of third countries where investments usually take place.
As an example, for us in Miura, the word “client” does not exist. Our philosophy is to offer truly personalised service and therefore refer to people as our “guests” and “partners”. It can seem like semantics but it fully reflects our mindset on service. Once we define a structure, we are committed to working together in evaluating alternatives, making decisions, and pivoting if the needs or environment changes.
What are the key differences between global and boutique firms?
The first and most important difference is that a global firm has thousands of clients from across the globe and within their peer group, they “fight” with other similar companies for clients. Their business model is similar to a wholesaler and the clients are numbers that help drive efficiencies in resources. Regardless of the individuals’ characteristics, they focus on a short-term gain for each customer as they are aware that there will be high turnover as individuals also move from one firm to another looking for better fees. The revenue stream is mostly driven by new structures or dissolved structures that generate fees from the individuals.
On the contrary, a boutique firm is looking for a win-win relationship focused on long-term retention as opposed to short-term gain. The firm focuses on the “partner” or “guest” satisfaction that will generate added business. This means that the focus is more on the quality relationship than the quantity. The offering becomes personalised and strives to avoid over costs generated by a mass approach.
Another key difference is that often global firms “recommend” solutions that are first and foremost beneficial to the firm. The approach is more about “trends” or “internal interest” than the clients’ benefit. Those firms function under the assumption that clients will leave them sooner or later – they are like “constructors” who build what others recommend in a moment with the materials they have in stock.
A boutique firm has different objectives and key performance indicators. Here, the main objective is to drive excellence in the design of the structure and strive to leverage the most sophisticated tools and materials to find an ideal solution for each ‘partner” or “guest”. The adviser acts like an architect during the design of the process but then also finds ways to improve and optimise everything once the structure is implemented. The key performance indicator for a boutique firm is the excellence and satisfaction of their partners.
Is there a global solution for wealth management?
There isn’t. There can’t be one wealth management solution that will fit every person’s goals and objectives. Each individual is unique and therefore, each solution should be personalised.
Some larger organisations try to standardise their solutions and offer global products that drive internal efficiencies, but this does not translate into benefits for the individuals.
Do you think that the pandemic, the political turmoil, and the ongoing war in Ukraine make wealth management more urgent?
It’s not so much about urgency as it is about starting now. A good analogy for this is the case for health insurance. When we are healthy, we never think about it but when we need it, we feel extremely grateful that we have it.
When we think about wealth management, some people believe it is still “early” in their lives to discuss it, but the reality is that the sooner we plan for it, the better.
What advice would you give to anyone who reads this and is not sure whether they should look for a wealth management adviser?
Everyone needs to start thinking about their wealth as early as possible, especially in the current uncertain environment. Timing is critical so book an appointment with a wealth management adviser now!