In today’s complex financial landscape, finding the right wealth manager can make all the difference in achieving your financial goals and securing your future. A wealth manager serves as a trusted advisor, guiding you through various investment opportunities, financial planning strategies, and wealth preservation techniques. However, not all wealth managers, or trust banks, are created equal. It’s essential to know what to look for when selecting this trusted partner. Here are six key considerations when choosing a wealth manager:

Your Best Interest

One of the most critical factors to consider is whether the wealth manager operates under a fiduciary duty. A fiduciary is legally obligated to act in the best interests of their clients, sitting with them on the same side of the desk. If the client does well, they do well. If the client doesn’t do well, the fiduciary doesn’t do well. At Greenleaf Trust, this looks like a transparent fee schedule, an independent in-house research team and a refusal to sell proprietary funds, or products. Our team is aligned with our clients’ best interests; therefore, we do not accept soft dollar remuneration, any other form of revenue from 12b-1 fees (distribution fees on a mutual fund), or commissions from third parties.

Broad Range of Services

A reputable wealth manager should offer a comprehensive suite of services tailored to meet your unique financial goals and objectives. This might include investment management, retirement planning, estate planning, education planning, financial coaching and/or philanthropic planning among others. Review offerings of the specific services provided and ensure they align with your financial objectives. For example, you can view Greenleaf Trust’s robust continuity of client care, here.

Custom, Personal Wealth Management

Look for a wealth manager who takes a personalized approach to wealth management. Your financial situation is unique, and a one-size-fits-all solution won’t suffice. A dedicated team of professionals should work closely with you to understand your preferences, risk tolerance, and long-term aspirations, crafting a customized wealth management strategy that evolves with your changing circumstances.

Greenleaf Trust’s client centric team is comprised of a Trust Relationship Officer, Wealth Management Advisor and a Team Service Coordinator. This team works in concert to provide holistic wealth management, advanced financial planning and proactive care to you as our client. With more than 200 team members working for Greenleaf Trust across the state of Michigan, our team leverages the collective wisdom of decades of experience to deliver remarkable service.

Certifications and Expertise

Look for certifications such as CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®), or Certified Trust and Fiduciary Advisor (CTFA), which demonstrate a commitment to professional excellence and ethical standards. Additionally, inquire about the team’s experience in managing portfolios similar to yours and their expertise in relevant areas of financial planning. Consider the depth of expertise across the firm.

Value of Financial Planning

Assess the value proposition offered by the wealth manager relative to their fees. While cost is a consideration, it’s equally important to evaluate the value you receive in return. Beyond investment returns, consider the holistic benefits of financial planning, such as tax optimization, risk management, and legacy planning. While some benefits may be harder to measure in dollars, such as the time saved monitoring your accounts or the peace of mind that your accounts are in the hands of trained professionals, a transparent fee structure and clear explanation of services rendered will help manage expectations and ensure a mutually beneficial relationship.


Stability and longevity are essential when selecting a wealth manager. Firms that experience abundant turnover, or merge with other firms frequently, do so at the expense of those who trust them: their clients. Choose a firm with a proven track record of success and a commitment to serving clients over the long term. Consider factors such as the firm’s history, reputation, financial stability, and succession planning to ensure continuity of service for generations to come.

Greenleaf Trust will never be bought nor sold. With more than $20 billion in assets under advisement, our business is structured as a trust-only bank, chartered to remain independent into perpetuity. From one generation to the next, Greenleaf Trust will be here for you, your heirs and theirs.

In conclusion, choosing the right wealth manager is a significant decision that can profoundly impact your financial well-being and legacy. By prioritizing factors such as fiduciary duty, breadth of services, personalized attention, stability, expertise, and value, you can make an informed choice that aligns with your goals and values. Remember to conduct thorough due diligence, ask pertinent questions, and trust your instincts when selecting a wealth manager to partner with on your financial journey.