• Laurie Tucker, Author |
3 min read

About a year ago, my neighbours in Grimsby, Ontario were relocating to Quebec. They had a big collection of houseplants that—like a lot of their furniture—wouldn’t be making the move. Although my green-thumb experience was limited to hardy outdoor gardens, I offered to rehome the houseplants, fearing they’d end up dying in a pile at the end of the driveway.

My neighbours were thrilled. Soon after, the houseplants landed on my doorstep in various sizes, shapes and shades—and with the conspicuous absence of an instruction manual.

Today? I’m sitting in my nature-inspired home office, surrounded by houseplants that are positively thriving. Through trial, error, patience and time, I’ve learned each plant’s requirements for sunlight, water and nutrients. And I still marvel at how every plant has its preferences and requires its own unique care.

If you’re a business owner or professional who relies on advisors, you probably see where I’m going with this: Every client is unique and has different needs. This uniqueness matters in my line of work, and it grows stronger and more diverse all the time.

As a leader in KPMG’s Family Office practice, my area of specialization encompasses accounting, reporting and administration. When it comes to wealth reporting—which at a basic level gives people a snapshot of their financial situation—truly no two clients’ needs are the same. Every family and family member is unique and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to providing reports.

I like to think this is where I put on my “master gardener” hat, tending to the needs and preferences of each individual. I (along with my colleagues) work to understand the nuances that drive the presentation of critical financial information in a way that is best suited to each member of the family. As we work closely with clients, we’re able to consider personal factors such as age, career, life stage and even learning styles when we deliver on their reporting needs.

For example, a younger business family may prefer as much detail as possible—such as in a spreadsheet with 10 different tabs and hundreds of rows. As entrepreneurs, they may be more concerned about cash flow and expenses, and want to get into the weeds on business-related metrics.

For more established family members, metrics around net worth and philanthropic commitments may become more meaningful: they may want to closely track donations to the causes they’re passionate about. I’ve also worked with couples in their sunset years who say they don’t want to see all the details; they just want to know they won’t run out of money. For them (and others who are more visual learners), information that’s delivered in a one-page snapshot is ideal. Still other reporting such as life insurance, non-financial assets like real estate, and future income and expenses planning can all be included in a wealth report.

On the spectrum of more detail to less, there is a plethora of options, and no one style is necessarily better than any other. Again, the uniqueness of each individual drives the type of reporting that speaks to them. When this information is presented in the right way, it’s easier for every family member to understand and is more stress-free. In other words, there is a best style—but it’s specific to the family.

You may work with multiple investment advisors, but are any of them consolidating all your information so you can see your financial picture as a whole? Too much or too little fertilizer can weaken results over time, and the healthiest and most vibrant gardens are tended by gardeners who not only see each plant individually but also take a step back to observe the overall garden. That’s the approach I took to my transplanted houseplants, and it’s the one I take with my clients.

Since the new year is underway and we’re in a new tax year, now is an ideal time to rethink your wealth reporting. Are you getting the information you need, in the way you want it? Does it help you manage your life and business, and help you make decisions? If there’s any doubt, or if you’re struggling with the information, it may be time to turn over a new leaf.

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