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How to succeed in the UHNW market

Learn what it takes to serve Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) clients, with specific considerations for women pursuing this market, from Elise Pulver, Director of Wealth Planning with TD Wealth Family Office Wealth Advisory Services.

For Elise Pulver, Director of Wealth Planning with TD Wealth Family Office, working with Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) clients is simply another day at the office. A specialist in catering to the needs of this market segment, she practiced tax and estate law for 17 years before transitioning to her current role. She particularly enjoys being surrounded by multidisciplinary professionals and having an opportunity to apply her technical expertise in a collaborative manner to provide the best possible advice.

What attributes help you serve UHNW clients?

In my opinion, there are three attributes I find to be critical. First, active listening, which requires the listener to be focused, attentive and conscious not to interrupt the speaker. It involves paraphrasing what you hear and picking up on body language. By engaging in active listening and focusing on what the client says, I can have deeper conversations and problem-solve more efficiently.

Second, “less is more.” The most important part of my job is ensuring clients understand the concepts that I’m explaining. I try to avoid speaking in legalese, and I’m aware of my pace and I pause often to give clients an opportunity to ask questions. When writing to clients, I’m meticulous. I choose my words carefully, and if a sentence is redundant or repetitive, I delete it or rephrase it. Ultimately, it's important to apply the three C's – being clear, concise and confident.

Elise Pulver, Director of Wealth Planning with TD Wealth Family Office Wealth Advisory Services

“When clients feel they have been heard, they develop rapport, trust and a relationship with you.”

Elise Pulver, Director of Wealth Planning with TD Wealth Family Office Wealth Advisory Services

Third, I invest the time to understand and then cater to my client’s needs and wants. I build meaningful relationships with my clients and get to know them on a personal level. Clients want to be heard – everyone does. And when clients feel they have been heard, they develop rapport, trust and a relationship with you.

What advice do you have for women who are starting to dip their toes in this market?

I used to be very hard on myself. For years, no matter how well I did or if I intuitively knew I was capable of doing something, I always felt I wasn’t as good as others. Eventually, I learned there was a term for what I felt: imposter syndrome. It permeates the workplace and I think it hits women hardest.

As women, we need to change the conversation in our heads. Instead of thinking “wait until they find out I have no idea what I’m doing,” tell yourself “everyone who starts something new feels off base in the beginning.” Even in my first year of practicing law, I believed I was expected to know everything. Fortunately, one of my mentors told me “it’s going to take you 10 years to develop expertise, so just be patient.” And I remember in my tenth year saying “okay, this is what she was talking about.” That was excellent advice that I would give to other people.

Recognize that it's okay to make a mistake, have an off day or ask for assistance.

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October 26, 2021