This financial adviser will manage your money — and your life

Published: May 28, 2019 12:27 p.m. ET

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Many financial planners now offer career coaching and concierge services

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It’s no longer enough to manage clients’ money; financial advisers now are also are managing clients’ lives.

A major trend in the financial advice business over the past decade is the transformation of an adviser from asset managers who construct investment portfolios to life planners who deliver broad concierge services, from career coaching to negotiating a car purchase.

Some advisers take this even further by serving as a clearinghouse of information to elevate a client’s quality of life. For example, Conway Wealth Group, a 10-person advisory firm in Parsippany, N.J. with roughly $300 million in assets under management, aims to provide comprehensive financial planning — and then some.

The firm is committed to helping its clients lead happier, more fulfilled lives. Clients take a survey in which they evaluate major aspects of their life. Respondents rate on a 1-to-10 scale their satisfaction in 10 soul-searching categories, from their health to their job to leisure activities. The firm’s planners then take steps to boost these scores, perhaps by finding more satisfying ways for clients to engage in philanthropy or derive greater joy — and less conflict— from their personal relationships.

“Taking this five-minute quiz uncovers substantial issues,” said Zachary Conway, managing director at Conway Wealth Group. “It allows us to go much deeper with clients. If someone isn’t all that happy with where they live, for example, we might spend 30 minutes talking about their situation at home and whether they should move.”

During quarterly review meetings, clients are asked to retake the survey. The firm can then track results and quantify its ability to increase clients’ contentment and peace of mind.

To further their mission to improve clients’ lives, Conway and his team have assembled what they’re calling a “life and wealth network” of outside experts — individuals and firms that specialize in areas from charitable giving to nutrition and private jet charters.

“We created the network as a formalized resource for clients needing a boost in whatever area,” Conway said. “A lot of advisers, especially at the wirehouses, might have some aspect of a concierge team with high-touch family office solutions. But they’re often reactive with these services, not proactive like we are.”

Conway acknowledges the risks of becoming enmeshed in clients’ lives. He says his team spent significant time conferring with attorneys about the function and structure of the network.

“There are inherent liabilities in this,” he said. “We’ve had to figure it out from a compliance and legal perspective in terms of the contracts between us and the providers, and making sure the disclaimers are appropriate on our website.”

Conway envisions the network as a means of differentiating his firm from similarly sized competitors as well as from advisers at big financial institutions.

“With this network, the relationship dynamic shifts dramatically,” he said. “You go from ‘Mr. Money Manager’ to a true adviser who’s helping your client live a better life.”

More: You’re probably not ready to retire — psychologically

Also read: The new math of saving for retirement may boil down to this one, absurdly simple rule

Morey Stettner is a writer in Portsmouth, N.H. He’s the author of five business books, including ”Skills for New Managers,” published by McGraw Hill.

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