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How to Choose a Wealth Manager

Two prominent wealth management companies offer their professional insight
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Planning for your future and the future of your family is a big responsibility, and financial security doesn't happen overnight. It takes time. Time to analyze your financial picture, research multiple avenues of investment, and then strategically manage and maintain those investments. Whether you're saving for a home, retirement, your children's education, or are looking to capitalize on your current assets, you can never be too prepared.

Sound overwhelming? It can be, which is why hiring a financial advisor might be a smart move for you, your family and your assets. Their expertise can be invaluable in navigating risk management, developing new financial skills and capitalizing on your investments.

So, how do you decide which financial advisor is the right fit for you? To help get the ball rolling, two prominent wealth management companies offer their professional insight.

Michael Nielsen, Senior Managing Director - Complex Director of RBC Wealth Management, a national investment firm with offices in downtown Seattle, provides some solid recommendations for jump-starting your search for a reliable advisor.

  1. Determine your financial picture. Ask yourself important questions before meeting with a potential financial advisor. Determine how much you have to invest, what kind of investments you want and how much help you need. Be armed with knowledge of your situation before you begin your search.
  2. Get references. Networking makes the world go round. Ask people you trust – family members, friends, colleagues, neighbors – whom they work with and what their experience has been with their financial advisor. Follow those leads to set up informational sessions with people they trust with their financial assets.
  3. Check a broker’s background. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is the largest independent regulator of securities firms doing business in the United States and has introduced a free online tool called “BrokerCheck” to help investors research the professional backgrounds of current and former FINRA-registered brokerage firms and brokers. Check here to support your search.
  4. Interview multiple brokers. We all have unique investment needs and, regardless of references, not all financial advisors’ strategies line up with our needs and wants. By talking with at least two different people and measuring their responses to your situation, you will ultimately make the most appropriate choice for your situation.
  5. Be comfortable with your choice

Ivo Schilbach, president of Seattle-based independent financial firm Schilbach Capital Strategies, views advisor selection in a different light--with a focus on fostering multigenerational relationships while successfully meeting financial goals. 

“Family relationships can be challenging and require different things from an advisor," explains Schilbach. "Untraditional lifestyles or occupational choices may be difficult for parents to accept. Ever been in a family meeting where dissention seemed just under the next breath? These clients need much more than a financial plan, as important as that may be.”

Based on five out-of-the-box criteria, Schilbach says advisors who truly fit a family’s needs should:

  1. Integrate insightful questions with active listening to mine underlying family dynamics and biases. A recent Bank of America/Merrill Lynch study shows how generational views impact wealth management through the framing bias of behavioral finance. The different forms of a family’s wealth must also be considered in a “360” style of wealth planning.
  2. Be a collaborator—both with the client and the family’s other advisors.
  3. Help clients articulate why they are hiring an advisor, what they expect them to do for them, the role they should play in their family, and how well that advisor will function with the family’s existing advisors.
  4. Be a resource for client needs that lie outside their expertise to which clients currently may not have access.
  5. Understand the difference in what family wealth consultant Lisa Niemeier calls “Real Wealth” and its financial and material byproducts (money, houses, other assets). Niemeier, founder of graymatter Strategies LLC, specializes in generational biases, family dynamics, and family governance. She works with advisors and their family clients to develop discovery skills and in utilizing families’ “Real Wealth℠” as a primary form of risk management. “Cultivating a family’s Real Wealth can have a tremendous impact on a family’s future,” she notes.

These criteria foster deeper, multi-generational relationships and enhance multi-level achievement of client goals.

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Five Winter Adventures in Whitefish, Montana

Five Winter Adventures in Whitefish, Montana

The perfect winter getaway awaits you in Whitefish, Montana
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Downtown Whitefish Mountain with views of Whitefish Mountain Resort in the distance

Sponsored by Explore Whitefish

Located in Northwest Montana, Whitefish is a winter getaway paradise. Downhill skiing or snowboarding? Check. Snowshoe in Glacier National Park? Check. A horse-drawn sleigh ride followed by a homecooked chili dinner? Yummy check! Whatever your adventure style, Whitefish has you covered.


Image by: Noah Couser
Skiing at Whitefish Mountain Resort

Hit the slopes at Whitefish Mountain Resort
Consistently top-ranked in national magazines and on top ten lists as a must-ski destination, Whitefish Mountain Resort still keeps its hometown ski vibe while serving up an unparalleled experience. At the summit, strap on your skis or snowboard and gaze around 360 degrees to pick your line3000 acres of Rocky Mountain snow (read: fluffy) await. Insider’s Tip: Ski under the lights! Night skiing happens Friday and Saturday nights through early March, and is a great way to extend the ski day. On-hill restaurants are open later for post skiing grub and hot drinks.

Snowshoe in Glacier National Park
Winter is the quiet season in Glacier National Park, but no less spectacular. Numerous snowshoe and cross-country trails are maintained for a scenic journey to take in the snow-capped peaks and peaceful forest floor. Insider’s Tip: Join in a Ranger-led snowshoe hike January through March for an intimate view of the Park, and look for signs of wildlife, plants and animals that endure and thrive in winter.


Image by: Jessica Downing
Fat Bike Riding on the Whitefish Trail

Ride a Fat Bike
Fat bikes are becoming a popular winter sport for cycling enthusiasts wanting to extend the cycling season, but it's not just for committed riders. If you know how to ride a bicycle, you can ride a fat bike. Insider’s Tip: Rent a bike at Glacier Cyclery and pedal along the bike path to the Lion Mountain Trailhead of the Whitefish Trail, a well-used, year-round trail perfect for getting your fat bike legs under you.


Image by: Brian Schott
Sleigh riding at Bar W Guest Ranch in Whitefish

Cozy up on a Horse-Drawn Sleigh
Enjoy the magic of a sleigh drawn by gentle draft horses while snuggling up with friends and loved ones. Sit back and enjoy the fresh air on a sleigh ride at the Bar W Guest Ranch. Afterward, warm up with hot chocolate and cookies. Insider’s Tip: Get the full dude ranch treatment with a homecooked chili dinner in the warm lodge after the ride.

Take the “Ski Train”
Sometimes the journey is just as fun as the destination. Amtrak’s Empire Builder leaves Seattle in the late afternoon and arrives in Whitefish early enough to grab breakfast and make first chair. After a few days (or longer) of fun, hop back on the train in the evening and you'll be back at your desk before lunch the next day. Insider’s Tip: Many hotels are within walking distance of the train station and will let you store your bags while you grab the free SNOW Bus to get in a full day of skiing before checking in!

About Whitefish: Whitefish, Montana is an inviting, small town located in the northern Rockies next to Glacier National Park, home to some of the most beautiful mountains in the world that rise up above millions of acres of unspoiled nature. The walkable downtown area is host to dozens of award-winning restaurants, galleries and lodging options. We welcome you to ExploreWhitefish.com.