At the end of every calendar year, tax, investment and succession planning are topics of intense interest for wealth management teams and their high-net-worth clients. With a hurting economy that's sucker-punched investment portfolios and a new presidential administration taking office next month that has pledged to repeal many of the Bush tax cuts, advisors and their clients have a particularly long list of topics to discuss.

For banks working to build their wealth management practices, helping people navigate today's economic and political tumult is a prime opportunity to prove themselves to clients and potential clients, and perhaps earn a lifetime of loyalty. It's also important to remember that the world of wealth management for high-net-worth clients is a word-of-mouth business. Being viewed as a trusted advisor is crucial in these difficult times while poor advice - or no advice - may prompt a client to jump ship to a competitor, says Shari Levitan, an attorney and chair of Holland + Knight Law's New England private wealth services practice. "Everybody's down but if you're not so down as badly as the people who aren't getting good advice, you look pretty good," she says.

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