Carolyn Griffin

Many of my clients belong to the wealthiest generation in history. Over almost thirty years I have served as their chartered accountant, sounding board and I’m proud to say their trusted advisor.

For well-off individuals with a long history of managing the strategic and practical aspects of their financial affairs, there are some challenges to overcome to achieve a time of so-called ‘retirement’.

Where there is a will…

Mostly, my clients in their sixties and beyond want to spend their spare time doing something other than paying bills on investment properties, recording cost bases for CGT calculations and trawling through SMSF rules. While they may have officially retired from paid employment, it proves harder to retire from the daily workload of managing complex financial affairs.

It is for these clients that we are being called upon to reduce the administrative burden. For many this is as straight forward as redirecting mail correspondence from financial institutions to our office for filing or actioning as required. For others with more complex financial matters we are able to accordingly upscale the support.

Consider for example a wealthy family group whose affairs we manage in collaboration with the now-elderly head of the family. The family wealth includes a significant share portfolio, several properties, a charitable foundation, SMSF and a family trust. While our client is sound in mind and keen to keep a watchful eye on these affairs, he has progressively eased out of the day-to-day workload. For this client we now handle transactions, bookkeeping, governance and tax in a similar manner to a “Family Office” however with better cost efficiency for our client. In addition, our professional expertise and experience means that we can advise him on strategic matters such as estate planning, succession plans and mentoring other members of the family. We continue to collaborate with other professionals such as his lawyer, to look after the interests of the family wealth. This relationship of trust has been built over many years.

Handing over to the next generation

We often see a situation where the elderly parents are ready to hand over control of the wealth to the next generation, however in practice there are obstacles. There may be concerns about the capability of the children, or concerns about how to choose one child over another to take the lead. Having a trusted advisor by your side will serve to maintain continuity and safe navigation in transferring wealth from one generation to another, while maintaining family harmony.

Ready to accept help

Some clients reluctantly acknowledge that their ability to manage their affairs is receeding, either due to physical illness or dementia. In these cases, time is of the essence to arrange matters before the individual is no longer capable of making decisions. Wills, powers of attorney, advance health care directives and a stable investment strategy are best agreed well before this difficult time. Unfortunately this is not always the case, and I frequently find myself in the most informed position to speak and act on behalf of my clients wishes.

A trusted advisor

Although the years are marching on, these clients are nevertheless driven, engaged in their finances and confident, and as such expect the highest standards of professionalism, confidentiality and expertise.

It serves them well to establish a long-term partnership with someone who has a detailed understanding of their situation, who they can bounce ideas off, and who can give them relevant options to make their own decisions. It’s a personal relationship of trust that cannot be forced or sold.

Importantly, this support can be scaled according to need and circumstance as time marches on.

For any advice about these services, please give us a call on (02) 9908 9888.