Managing wealth: How a trusted advisor can help make difficult decisions

For many years, the CEO of an information technology company kept most of his personal wealth concentrated in the company. When he was ready to liquidate the position, he worked closely with his financial advisor, attorneys, and PwC team to implement a comprehensive estate plan.

The extensive, multi-year plan would gradually diversify his investments and distribute assets among his children. Working together, his advisors set up several different entities, including LLCs, LLPs, and at least a dozen different trusts. The plan covered three generations of the family; each family member's investment vehicles were tailored to his or her individual needs and risk tolerance.

For several years, the investment decisions were coordinated and driven by the lead investment advisor. During this time, this advisor not only amassed an unparalleled level of knowledge of the various financial instruments, account transactions and family dynamics but also built close relationships with individual family members.

Then, the investment advisor decided to leave her firm. Suddenly, the family found themselves without the guidance of an advisor on whom they had almost entirely relied for several years. The CEO wasn't sure what to do: should he stay with the investment advisor as she struck out on her own? Should he continue to retain her firm? Should he start fresh with a new investment management team? Because the diversification process was designed to achieve certain investment returns in each of the different entities, these decisions were critical to realizing the family's long-term objectives.

Having worked closely with PwC partner Richard Kohan for several years, the CEO turned to him for advice. Kohan shared with the CEO what he'd seen others do in similar situations, which strategies worked, and which backfired. As Kohan said, "The role we were asked to play in the process was positive affirmation of the strength of the relationship we had developed with the CEO as well of the value we are able to provide our clients as a holistic trusted business advisor."

Kohan helped the CEO understand the options available to him and develop a new approach to the investment plan that retained relationships with both the investment bank and the departing advisor while still protecting the CEO's personal and professional concerns. During the transition period, Kohan and his team stepped in to monitor the portfolios and make sure that scheduled investment and transfers would continue to be made.

Ultimately, Kohan provided the CEO with objective advice on how to manage the transition, maintain relationships, and protect his interests. As a result, the CEO was able to continue his investment plan with minimal interruption, despite the departure of a critical member of the investment team. As Kohan concluded, "This process exemplified how we assist clients in navigating a wide variety of issues and demonstrates the perspective we can offer based on our experience working exclusively with high-net worth individuals and families."