FMB Wealth Management sets itself apart with Vanilla

There are those capabilities, like portfolio management, that are table stakes for financial advisors. But FMB Wealth Management in Westlake Village, CA has made a name for itself by going beyond the table stakes – by always staying ahead of the curve, implementing innovative systems and onboarding impactful technology – and ultimately delivering clients value beyond the expected. Recently, Vanilla has played an important role in that winning strategy.


FMB’s Approach

FMB’s success is rooted in how they approach planning with clients. Over the past several years, FMB, with 12 employees and approximately $500M in assets under management, codified a more comprehensive way of working with clients that incorporates portfolio management, insurance, tax, estate planning – and even cyber security. Their philosophy is that each of these essential aspects of planning affects the other, and only by examining them holistically can clients realize their financial goals to the fullest. To ensure a consistent, high level of service, every client is put on a schedule that ensures their advisor addresses each of the different facets of financial health over the course of the year.

Estate planning as a core offering

Even prior to creating its systemized approach, FMB was an early adopter when it came to incorporating estate planning into its practice in a foundational way. Whereas many wealth management firms simply pass clients onto estate attorneys, FMB baked estate planning into their core offering. Clients found it incredibly valuable, but it wasn’t sustainable to deliver such tailored, high-touch reports to every client. So when FMB discovered Vanilla, it was a game changer.

“We had the capability to do excellent reviews, but not for a couple hundred clients,” said Grant Blindbury, Partner at FMB Wealth. “With Vanilla, we were able to create presentations that were much more impressive than anything we could have put together ourselves – and we could do it faster and more efficiently. The reaction from clients has been incredible, and it gave our advisors a lot of time back.”

Technology as a differentiator

Along with their signature, systemized approach, Vanilla has become an important differentiator for FMB. The technology has helped better showcase the value FMB can bring in a tangible way.

“There’s been a lot of talk of fee decline in the industry. We haven’t seen that, but what we have seen is that clients expect advisors to give them more for the same fee. Being able to deliver well-considered estate strategies and visualizations helps clients clearly see how much they are getting for their fee,” said Blindbury.

Grant is quick to point out that advisors at FMB don’t take the place of estate planning attorneys or tax professionals. Rather, they work collaboratively with them.

“An estate attorney creates a set of documents, but might not look at those documents again for years. We are meeting clients several times a year, and are able to ensure their plans continue to make sense as their lives change. Sometimes, when we look over their documents, everything is fine, but you’d be surprised how often we find something major that needs to be adjusted. That just wouldn’t happen if we weren’t involved in the process. And estate attorneys have responded really well to this collaboration. We are shining a light on their great work,” he said.

An ongoing client conversation

The nature of Vanilla’s platform transforms an estate plan from “set-it-and-forget-it” to a living plan. Vanilla has enabled FMB advisors to not only walk through current estate plans with their clients, but to see how making individual changes will impact the plan as a whole. Seeing the different options come to life dynamically helps more completely illustrate the impact of their decisions. Or, in the case of a sudden death or divorce, they can more easily visualize what the changes will mean today and in the future. Vanilla is deepening existing client relationships, and helping forge new ones.

To learn more about how FMB Wealth Management approaches estate planning, view our webinar “Death and Taxes.”

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