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    It’s a financial advisor’s job to look after their clients’ finances, including creating a financial plan based on their overall financial goals and specific investments. While most advisory firms offer some form of a financial plan, not every firm offers a comprehensive, white glove plan as a premium-level service offering. Financial planning is not a one-size-fits-all approach, so it’s important to understand when a white glove approach to a financial plan is necessary for your clients and the basics of what you should be offering.

    When Should You Provide White Glove Financial Planning Services?

    Clients with fewer assets may not need the same individual attention that clients with high-value assets or high-net-worth accounts would require. For good reason, too. Creating a premium financial plan can be an extremely time-consuming and costly process, so it’s important to clearly identify when clients need it and when they don’t. Each client will have their own individual needs and these needs should be worked through on a case-by-case basis.

    This extra attention and care in wealth management can be especially important during times of volatility. The individual attention given to clients through a premium financial plan can push your advisory firm above and beyond your clients’ expectations, leading to a positive client experience and the potential for referrals, testimonials, and better lead generation. Many advisory firms see growth through word-of-mouth promotion from their own clients. By taking the time to have a short call with your clients during times of uncertainty in the market, you can build a positive relationship between you and your clients and create an opportunity for delivering top-end service.

    When you should offer a comprehensive financial plan depends greatly on your client segmentation and your specific advisory goals. More often than not, advisors who act as fiduciaries will focus on creating comprehensive financial plans for their clients, as they are able to put client needs first. However, this doesn’t mean that only fiduciaries can offer this service, as an advisory firm’s service model will determine which clients need a more individualized plan for their investments.

    The Five Basics of White Glove Financial Planning

    Now that we’ve discussed the importance of offering a premium financial plan, let’s talk about what that might include. While every advisor should offer some form of financial plan service, not all are as in-depth as everything “done-for-you” financial planning. White glove planning is a solid foundation for the rest of financial planning; it requires a much deeper understanding of clients’ financial wants and needs.

    There are five basic aspects that a premium financial plan should offer:

    1. Retirement planning — This is arguably the most important part of a financial plan. Clients are often eager to know when they can retire safely while maintaining their spending in accordance with their financial needs.
    2. Retirement spending — Going deeper into the retirement talks, the plan should identify exactly how much clients can spend during their retirement without endangering their retirement income. This spending plan should account for growth rates in costs and spending and factor in any potential future inflation.
    3. Sources of income — This should identify where funds from clients’ retirement come from. A large determining factor is whether or not this will be pulled from a tax-qualified or non-tax-qualified account. 
    4. Sending children to college/secondary education — This educational planning is commonly asked by families with children or grandchildren who they are looking to support.
    5. Legacy goals — These goals revolve around planning for future generations. This is completed to ensure that money will not run out in retirement, but also looks at legacy estate planning and the assets clients will leave behind for their beneficiaries to receive and manage.

    Above all else, the goals of your clients should take precedence in these conversations. Asking prodding questions such as “What do you want to accomplish?” can provide a lot of clarity and a path forward.

    Depending on how in-depth you are with your clients’ financial picture, a white glove financial planning service can take anywhere up to 30-40 hours to complete. This level of individual planning takes a lot of time and effort from an advisory team. Let's take a look at how much it costs to offer white glove financial services.

    What White Glove Financial Planning Can Cost You

    There are two major costs that a firm can face when creating a premium financial plan: the software and the service itself.

    The software is self-explanatory. Your firm should be equipped with the right analytical tools that can accurately map and forecast the future of your clients’ finances. These tools can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to up to $7,000 a year, so it’s important that you determine what your firm needs before you go shopping. If you buy planning software with features you don't need, you’re potentially wasting money. 

    The human capital required is the second half of the cost you will face. After all, a person will need to put these financial plans on paper for your clients. Whoever creates this plan will need to devote a significant amount of time to the clients. If you are an RIA or a smaller firm, taking such a large amount of your time to work individually with one client might hurt your ability to perform other duties within your firm and services for other clients.

    How to Handle Costs for Premium Planning

    Typically, large firms, such as broker-dealers, can absorb this cost. Smaller firms, such as RIAs, often need to make up for these costs in creative ways.

    One way to do this is by charging a consultation rate per hour and an additional fee for any add-on features that may be added to standard data entry. Consultation services and integrated wealth tech platforms from companies like AssetMark can help firms determine what software advisors should use, as well as what rates to charge depending on what services they are providing.

    If you don't have the time or resources to offer white glove services on your own, outsourcing this work to a team of experienced consultants, or an experienced financial advisor — instead of hiring one on your team — can prove to be a more cost-effective solution.

    Consult with AssetMark for Expertise and Support

    When clients turn to financial professionals or financial planners, they want confidence that their goals will be met.

    AssetMark has the experience and expertise to support advisors in building their white glove financial services in many ways. From recommending software to walking through examples of how to approach certain client segments, our experienced team of consultants and robust resources can help advisors offer premium solutions to their clients. Request a consultation today to get started.



    AssetMark is a leading provider of extensive wealth management and technology solutions that help financial advisors meet the ever-changing needs of their clients and businesses.

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