WWYD: Using a Family Connection
In this installment of “WWYD,” a family connection results in a free service:
A few years ago, my in-laws gave us an in with their (high net worth) asset management firm as an engagement present. Essentially, the firm is working with us to manage a small (by their standards) sum of money we have managed to save. “In recognition of our family’s history with the firm,” they are waiving the minimum account values and a few additional fees. They’re a pleasure to work with and have assisted us with some one-off questions/concerns we’ve had.
Our taxes are insane this year because of multiple moves through different states. I asked them how much they charge for tax prep services—they told me it would be about $750, plus any taxes we will owe. That’s too much money for us, since we are anticipating about $1,000 in owed taxes. (THANK YOU NYC PERSONAL TAX.) I wrote back a nice note saying, “Thanks but I think we’ll try it out ourselves—would you mind looking them over once we’ve given it our best shot?” And I spent the weekend preparing our tax returns. (Three times, because we have to file separately in two states. UGH.)
They wrote back saying that they really couldn’t look them over without preparing them on their own but “in recognition of our family’s history,” they’d do it for free. And they added that this was a one-time thing and we shouldn’t get used to it. Now I feel terrible, like I’m exploiting these nice people. Do I take them up on this offer? Do I send them a tip? A nice thank you note? WWYD? — E.
Is it just me, or am I not seeing a problem here? I’m sure a high net worth asset management firm would know whether or not they are being taken advantage of—it seems like they just want to do something nice for you because they appreciate the business your family has given them. It’s also a strategic move: If you do have lots of money that needs managing one day down the line, perhaps you will remember the nice high net worth asset management firm that once did your taxes for you for free.
Do not feel bad about this. I would not feel bad about this. I would take them up on the offer. I probably would not send them a tip (is tipping an asset management firm even a thing?), but I would send them a nice thank you note.
An even better thank you? Recommending the firm to people you know if they ever need the kind of services the firm provides, and paying to use their tax prep services in the future if they do a good job. You’ll be earning more money (hopefully) as you get further into your career, and your taxes may get more complicated as you go through life changes. Consider this a free trial run.