Sherpa Wealth Strategies Financial Planner in Bend, Oregon

Finding Financial Experts to Work With, the Super Rich Way 

Published: Jun 14, 2023
Author: Presented by Brian Stallcop, CFP®

Key Takeaways



  • Referrals from other professionals are a top way to find great experts.
  • Your peers, friends and associates can be another excellent resource.
  • Look for experts who are well known and hugely respected in their industry.
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As a busy and successful person, it’s highly likely that you prefer to get guidance on the many financial issues in your life—from investing to taxes to estate planning to wealth protection and beyond.

It’s also highly likely that you’d like that advice to come from extremely qualified and capable professionals—experts who have your best interests at heart and who have the skills and capabilities to add tremendous value to your bottom line.

The bad news: There are hundreds of thousands of financial advisors and other professionals practicing today. That can make the search for top professionals feel like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack. Along the way, it’s possible you’ll encounter professionals who are well meaning but aren’t actually qualified to help you with your specific needs (Pretenders).

Worse, you might come across those who use shaky or overly aggressive solutions that could blow up on you down the road when you most need those solutions to work for you (Exploiters). It’s not always easy to differentiate such advisors from the ones you want to work with!

The good news: You can potentially boost your probability of success by taking the steps that the Super Rich (with a net worth of $500 million or more) use to find their experts. Here’s how the Super Rich do it—and how you can, too.

Referrals are the key, followed by reputation

Our experience working closely with the Super Rich tells us that they consistently find high-caliber professionals in three main ways.

  • Most likely way: Referrals from other professionals they are currently working with or have recently employed
  • Second most likely way: Referrals from their peers, who are usually either people they’ve known for a long time or members of a group they’re also part of
  • Third most likely way: Contacting a leading professional because of the industry reputation of that person

These three ways dominate how the exceptionally affluent find elite wealth planners. There are other ways Super Rich families connect with high-caliber professionals, but they’re more the exception than the rule.

Let’s look at each method in more detail.

Referrals from other professionals

High-end professionals tend to know other types of high-end professionals. Their paths often cross from working with the same rich and Super Rich clients, as well as at industry events, conferences and the like. If a skilled money manager and a wealth planner work for the same client, and work collaboratively to help that client, their experience will give them a good feel for each other’s skills and integrity.

These referrals tend to play out through two main scenarios:

Scenario #1: Client-initiated

The Super Rich like to source other professionals by soliciting referrals from the professionals they are currently engaging. While that approach is useful for finding top talent, it is also an astute risk-reduction approach. The reason: The professional making the referral is often “on the hook” for that referral. If the referred professional does not deliver as promised, the judgment of the referring professional can be questioned.

When asking for a referral in this way, you need to tell the professional what particular results you’re looking to achieve. It is that professional’s job to get more information from you and make a qualified introduction.

Scenario #2: Professional-initiated

Many high-caliber financial professionals will often take the initiative and broach the topic of having a client talk to another professional. A proactive professional will understand your latent needs and get out in front of them by making referrals to people who can help you meet them. Indeed, it’s a sign that you’re likely working with a great professional if he or she proactively introduces you to others who can help you.

Increasingly, top professionals are building teams of professionals. This is an extremely positive development because, in our experience, few (if any) financial professionals possess all the capabilities to fully address their clients’ multiple and often complex goals. Astute professionals recognize this and act on it by surrounding themselves with top talent in areas where 1) they lack the requisite expertise and 2) their clients need guidance.

Referrals from peers

The second most likely way the Super Rich find a high-caliber expert is through an introduction by a business associate or another type of peer they trust. This can, of course, be a highly effective approach for you to use as well—especially if you are already on the path toward building serious wealth, as is likely the case.

Furthermore, we see that the likelihood of getting peer referrals goes up exponentially if you have built relationships with peers by getting to know them through specialized or exclusive groups.

For the Super Rich, examples include organizations and events like the World Economic Forum conferences, the Milken Institute Global Conference and Bilderberg Meetings. It is at these gatherings that the Super Rich connect with each other and build meaningful relationships. Based on those relationships, they’re usually willing to share the best professionals they’ve found in their own lives—including elite wealth planners.

For those of us not yet at the Super Rich level, there are other promising options. One example: mastermind groups. In top-of-the-line mastermind groups, very successful individuals are willing to tell other members about their experiences with the professionals they employ.

Important: Just as the Super Rich do, you must develop rapport and trust with a peer before you can expect him or her to make a referral. That’s why mastermind groups and other organizations that foster community and an environment in which members support each other can be so valuable.

Finding Financial Experts to Work With, the Super Rich Way by Sherpa Wealth Strategies

Industry prominence

Some professionals in the financial and legal worlds are well known among their peers and competitors for all the right reasons They have a powerful and influential professional brand that acts like a magnet—drawing the rich, the Super Rich and other leading authorities to them.

These “brand name” professionals have several key characteristics:

  • Extreme competence and technical expertise—they are seen by their peers as true thought leaders in their area of specialty.
  • An intense commitment to being client-centered—they focus on the human element by seeking to understand their clients on a deep level.
  • A willingness to share their insights, technical know-how and processes with others—clients, prospects and even competitors.

Important: Industry prominence doesn’t necessarily mean a financial professional you see all over billboards and television. Instead, these professionals tend to be well respected by the key players in their industry. They may very well be unknown among the mass market.

This prominence ultimately brings us back to referrals. Because of their focus on making things better for their clients and even the clients of other professionals, high-profile professionals are more likely to be referred by other professionals. They are also more likely to be referred to others by their Super Rich clients. Example: Industry-prominent professionals tend to be quite successful in being asked to present at mastermind groups.

Using these tools

Clearly, to get great referrals to professionals, it’s helpful to “run in the right circles”—that is, to already be working with at least one professional you think is of extremely high quality, or to know people who are already working with such professionals. Those become your access points to financial experts who may be able to add significant value to your life.

If you’re currently working with a professional you think is great, you can certainly ask for recommendations for other professionals he or she might know or partner with. Ideally, that professional has already steered you toward one or more professionals he or she strongly recommends. On the other hand, if you’re working with a professional whom you don’t deeply trust, consider getting a second opinion on your financial situation from an advisor or other professional. That one move could put you on a path to working with a group of top experts.

Finding Financial Experts to Work With, the Super Rich Way by Sherpa Wealth Strategies
Disclosure: We define elite wealth managers as financial advisors with at least five years of experience who offer one or more of the following services along with investment management: tax mitigation, business planning, wealth transfer, asset protection and charitable giving. Typically, elite wealth managers deliver these services in conjunction with one or more specialists in a given area.


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