to include us in their private moments.”
Kaye hasn’t advised clients for or
against marriage, but he does sometimes set clients up on dates. “We
have a very good database and we
take note of people who are interested in meeting someone,” he says.
Collier, meanwhile, has covered the
other end of the relationship cycle,
acting as a mediator for clients going
through a divorce.
Sometimes family issues aren’t
primarily about the client. “We had a
client whose uncle’s girlfriends were
stealing from the uncle, who didn’t
realize it at first because he was such
a packrat,” Kaye says. He helped the
nephew sort out what was missing,
called the authorities and brought in a
ment in Melbourne, Fla., offers clients
access to his “magic Rolodex,” which is
filled with contacts at reputable busi-
nesses of all kinds, he says. Tax attor-
neys, divorce attorneys and CPAs get
the same access, as well as the ability
to use Thompson as a resource. “They
know they can come to us and get any
information they need on investments,
securities, insurance and anything else
they don’t feel entirely comfortable
with,” Thompson says. “It’s a touch
point, either via email or by snail mail
with an included note.”
PRICING CONCIERGE SERVICES
Many planners wrap the cost of concierge services into a comprehensive
wealth management fee. “We’re a fee-
CALCULATING THE PA YOFF
Advisors say that concierge services
help them solidify existing relationships, compete with large institutional wealth managers and attract
new clients. “I think it makes the clients we’re helping very happy, and
our business grows on client referrals.
It makes them think of us at appropriate times,” Altfest says.
Those clients are getting attention they wouldn’t get from a large
institutional wealth manager, Altfest adds. “It’s just not possible
when you’re running 400 accounts
to know the names of each of your
clients and their children and where
they’ve vacationed. Being in a very
personalized business, it’s an easier
Some planners offer all their clients concierge services; others help only top
clients with special projects.
gerontologist and social services case
worker to assess the uncle’s needs.
Some planners will do nearly anything
for a client. Others won’t. “Clients often
ask if we’ll pay their bills, and we say
we don’t do that. We don’t want to get
involved and that’s not how we spend
our day,” Altfest says.
Instead, many planners treat client
needs that the planner can’t or won’t
handle as an opportunity to strengthen
a relationship with another financial
services provider. Collier’s firm, for
instance, used to handle some bill-paying for clients who had their own
businesses. “We’ve recently given a
lot of that to a local CPA,” Collier says.
The referral helps the clients, and also
makes it more likely that the CPA will
refer business to Collier’s firm.
Mark Thompson, senior vice president at Thompson Wealth Manage-
only practice and we consider this part
of their fee,” Collier says. “When you’re
willing and able to do things for clients,
word gets around.”
Other planners might offer inclu-
sive services, but only to top clients.
“Really, it’s the upper 20% of the cli-
entele who get most of the services,”
Thompson says. “We price it into the
fee and we’re organized about provid-
ing it. You really have to be organized.”
For the other 80% of clients, Thomp-
son says, he doesn’t advertise con-
cierge services or discuss them as part
of the on-boarding process.
At Kaye’s practice, clients who
generate revenue of $19,000 or more
get 30 hours a year of the firm’s professional time, which they can use
however they like; concierge services
fit into that time. After those 30 hours
are used up, Kaye bills time at between
$60 to $300 an hour, depending on
the staff involved.
transition to hearing about their
lives,” she says.
Concierge services are “definitely
a differentiator,” Thompson agrees.
They’re a particularly good way to
demonstrate a firm’s quality to existing
clients’ children and grandchildren, he
says, who will likely remember when
a planner went out of the way to help
It’s also just plain satisfying to
help clients improve their lives, Kaye
says: “There are other ways to help
people achieve their goals, other than
retirement income planning and risk
management. There’s also smile
Ingrid Case, a Minneapolis financial
writer, is a former editor at Bloomberg News. She is the author of Your
Own Two Feet (and How to Stand on
Them): Surviving and Thriving After