Here are answers to some common wealth management questions from Pat Soldano, chairman – Western Region, GenSpring Family Offices, and Mark Mushkat, senior advisor – Western Region, GenSpring Family Offices:

What is the biggest mistake people make — that could be corrected by an effective financial adviser — when they try to manage their assets on their own? They misjudge the time, expertise and resources necessary to truly manage their assets effectively, and achieve an appropriate level of return for an appropriate level of risk.

What has been the biggest change in wealth management strategies in the wake of the recession? Investors have become more risk-averse and become less trusting of the wealth management industry in general. They are questioning their advisors more and trying to understand if their advisors are doing what is in the best interest of the investor or the advisor and/or their firm!

Is there one particular trend you’re seeing in clients or is there one particular strategy you’re steering clients toward that may be different from strategies employed five years ago? GenSpring has concerns about the risks of the stock market relative to its expected returns. As this market will likely remain highly volatile, we expect comparable returns in other asset classes without as much risk as stocks.

Are there things that people can or should do between now and the end of the year to protect or build their wealth? Take advantage of the $5 million per person gift tax exemption, by using as much of it as practicable, based on their spending needs, before it may go away at the end of 2012. This will take assets out of their estate that would other be subject to a 35 to 55 percent estate tax at their death.

What advice would you give someone who is just reaching an age where they are starting to worry about protecting and building their wealth? Careful financial planning is key to effective saving, investing and spending. It’s important to consider taxes, inflation, market risks and expected returns in asset classes like stocks, bonds, CDs, real estate, etc.

What advice would you give someone who is established, but wants to protect and build their wealth for the next generations? Our families find it helpful to have clear objectives spelled out in an Investment Policy Statement. This document is a road map for good times and for bad, and it’s useful to share with guardians of future generations to maintain a consistent and disciplined investment plan.