The Advantages of Using Holistic Wealth Management to Help Clients Succeed

There’s no doubt that the world of investment has been rocked by digitization and technological advances. These changes brought a swift wave of innovation and efficiency to the investment landscape. 

Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the world to adapt and change faster than we knew we could. This accelerated what had been a gradual transformation into a race of AI-driven analytics, robo-advisors, investment apps, mobile communications, and other tech innovations while also creating a new expectation of personalized services for investors.

These new technologies offer greater points of insight and contact between advisors and investors — in addition to associated fees — but these advances and features risk turning what should be a relationship business into one that’s impersonal and more about driving high-volume commodities. 

And while it’s true that millennial and Gen Z investors enjoy the capabilities that technology provides — they also want advice on more than just how to grow a portfolio; they want a holistic approach to their wealth management that accounts for their goals and aligns with their values. 

The upcoming great wealth transfer from Baby Boomers to millennials and Gen Z is predicted to set an unprecedented number of new investors who have a different set of financial priorities than their parents. Meeting the financial needs of these clients must go beyond just providing returns and stability — it has to take a full account of who they are, including their priorities, values, goals, and aspirations. 

This more comprehensive approach to wealth management will be a key factor in what sets institutions and their financial advisors apart from the competition.

Client success is your success. If you’re not providing your clients with holistic financial services, then you might be watching them walk out your doors to find your competitors who are.

What is holistic financial planning?

While each area of wealth management — from investment to estate planning to tax management — is individually important, how they inform, complement, and function together provides the largest returns for investors. 

Traditional wealth planning is usually focused on making investments or providing tax advice. A holistic planner evaluates the entire scope of a client’s finances to make recommendations that make sense both financially and personally for each individual investor.

Holistic financial planning is a top-down approach where the advisor works with a client to determine their current goals, like establishing timelines and identifying steps to success. It’s less about what a client can achieve in the short-term or even in just one financial area, and more of a long-term approach that accounts for larger factors like major life events and non-financial aspirations.

Elements of holistic financial planning

Holistic wealth management needs to account for any factor that touches a person’s financial life — including income, taxes, insurance, and budgets. It also needs to account for future planning, from educational goals and estate management to retirement and expected inheritance. 

It’s an extremely complex requirement, which is why firms need to support their advisors in asking clients what their goals are and how they may reach them. Advisors should be able to rely on their firm’s resources, training, and technology to offer personalized solutions for each of the following factors: 

Financial goals                                  

  • Determine their needs, wants and wishes
  • Evaluate alternative investments
  • Probability analysis
  • Monitor progress of accounts

Charitable giving and estate planning

  • Family mission statement
  • Charitable trusts
  • Direct bequests
  • Donor-advised funds
  • Private foundations

Tax planning                                

  • Taxable vs. tax-free income
  • Tax-loss harvesting 
  • Asset rebalancing 
  • Concentrated stock strategies


  • Complex illiquid and/or non-cash assets
  • Portfolio construction
  • Individual securities
  • Exchange traded funds
  • Mutual funds
  • Closed end funds
  • Annuities


Retirement accounts

  • Social Security and Medicare benefits
  • Retirement vision 
  • Coordinate fixed income sources
  • Coordinate variable income sources
  • IRA / 401(k) / 403(b) / 457 plans
  • Annuities
  • Effects of long-term care


Insurance needs                      

  • Life insurance
  • Disability insurance
  • Property and casualty insurance
  • Identity and credit protection
  • Long term care insurance

Budgeting and saving

  • Budget evaluation
  • Cash flow management
  • Higher education / college savings strategies 

Philanthropy’s role in holistic financial planning

A holistic approach is more than just a box to check off, so it must account for clients’ goals and beliefs, which is why philanthropy plays an essential role in growing a holistic wealth program. 

The upcoming generations are no stranger to giving. 74% of millennials and 66% of Gen Zers donated to charity or provided monetary assistance to others during the COVID-19 pandemic. Clients want to engage with advisors and firms to better understand how their favorite charity or cause can be a part of their long-term financial goals. 

Here are three reasons why philanthropy is already a part of comprehensive financial plans.

1) Charitable giving is already a key component of how donors manage their wealth

High-net-worth (HNW) clients already consider charitable donations part of their financial planning. A Bank of America study found that HNW charitable giving increased during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic with a 48% increase in average giving from 2017. And charitable giving isn’t limited to HNW individuals. Lending Tree reports that more than half (56%) of surveyed Americans donated to charity in 2021. 

The future of giving looks promising, as Lending Tree found that millennials were the generation that gave the most on average. Bank of America also reports that HNW donors 38 years old and younger were increasingly active in giving, with 81% donating to charities. Of that number, 55% supported issues they strongly believed in, including social and racial justice. This follows the trend of an increase in impact and sustainable investing, where 60% of donors said that these donations were in addition to their existing charitable giving.

2) Donor-advised funds are an increasingly popular and flexible means of charitable giving

According to National Philanthropic Trust (NPT), many donors use donor-advised funds (DAFs) for individual and family giving, and an increasing number have adapted DAFs to facilitate workplace giving programs, online fundraising platforms, and other models in order to expand their philanthropy. According to data from the NPT, grants from DAFs to qualified charities in 2021 totaled an estimated $45.74 billion, representing a 28.2% increase compared to 2020, which itself was 28.3% higher than in 2019. 

The popularity of donor-advised funds for charitable giving is largely due to how they streamline giving from one source, without the headache and expense of private foundations or other charitable vehicles. The flexible nature of how DAFs donate their funds is beneficial during times of economic uncertainty. 

When capacity for charitable giving may be limited, donors with DAFs are better positioned to provide funding to their charities when it’s needed the most. DAFs also allow for flexibility in investments, as a wide range of assets can be donated to the fund and dispersed immediately or over a longer period of time. 

DAFs also promote a deeper understanding of your clients, as they allow you to learn more about what’s important to them based on their priorities and choice of charities. Managing a DAF allows your advisors to be more active in making meaningful and impactful decisions with your clients. 

3) Technology plays an increasingly important role in charitable giving

We addressed earlier how younger donors enjoy using technology as part of their investment and wealth management. Many affluent households are increasingly turning to digital tools in order to support causes and organizations. Bank of America also found that, in addition to the 56% of donors who have used a nonprofit’s website to donate, HNW donors also used other digital giving tools, with 17% donating via payment processing apps and 13% through social media tools.

Financial technology can play an important role in coordinating charitable giving with the larger, holistic goals of investors. Rather than drive the commoditization of wealth management, the right wealth management technology can automate processes and allow for real-time engagement with clients. This allows your advisors to better personalize recommendations to a client’s situation and conveniently suggest optimizations for their wealth planning. 

Today’s customers are committed to maximizing their wealth and investments. A holistic approach to wealth management will allow your advisors the opportunity to look at every angle of a client’s financial situation to determine what’s working and what’s not in order to make the best adjustments. The results are more than worth it. 

Advisors who practice holistic wealth planning:

  • Offer a fuller suite of services to their clients to provide them a better experience which increases their overall satisfaction.
  • Can grow and enhance their programs while keeping more clients assets under their management.
  • Report a 67% higher growth in the number of clients compared to advisors who do not.


Talk to us to see how you can include the right charitable programs, like donor-advised funds, as key parts of the holistic wealth management you’ll provide to your clients.

Is a donor-advised fund the right choice for your client?​

Get the answers to the most frequently asked questions about donor-advised funds in our free eBook — 12 Questions to Ask Before Setting Up a Donor-Advised Fund.