Entrust your money to a company with a solid track record ACOMFORTABLE retirement in Bali, an Ivy League education for your children, Mediterranean cruises, never having to ask how much things costs - all these are obvious reasons for acquiring wealth. The problem is that it is not nearly so simple as earning a high salary, starting a successful business, investing in Mid-Levels real estate, or acquiring a balanced portfolio of blue chip stocks. You have to consider a host of variables that extend far beyond risk, timing and cost. You also have to think about your goals and when you want to achieve them, the rate of return you will need for your portfolio to reach this amount, how your investments should be allocated to maximise profits while minimising risk, and - in many cases - taxation. Newspapers and magazines are full of advice on how to get the most bang for your buck. An increasing number of websites offer online information, as well as interactive tools that help with calculations. And bookstores are full of how-to books targeted at everyone, from absolute beginners to Wall Street mavens. Unfortunately, the suggestions can be confusing. One source of information is invariably in conflict with another, and the more you read the more confused you get. Enter wealth management. Most people need professional help to manage their finances. That is how you can maximise your profits during bull markets while reducing risk - and even turning profits - during bear markets. When it comes to wealth management, however, you do not entrust your future in just anyone. But choosing the right adviser can be a daunting task. Be prepared to do a careful needs analysis, and then research and interview a host of service providers. The first thing to consider is the company itself. You do not want to deal with Johnny-come-latelys. You want a firm with a solid track record. 'Look at the reputation of the company and find out how long it has been established,' said Norman Lowe, division head of wealth management at the Delta Asia Financial Group. 'Delta Asia, for example, has been in business for 70 years.' The second thing to consider is the training and the amount of professional experience the advisers you will be working with have. 'You want to know how deeply they care about your requirements,' Mr Lowe said. 'Do they offer personalised service? We have only one trainee. All of our other advisers have had at least 10 years of experience in the products they offer.' Another important consideration is the number of regulatory bodies monitoring the firm's activities. 'Delta Asia is regulated by four - the Hong Kong and Macau monetary authorities, the Securities and Futures Commission, and the Confederation of Insurance Brokers,' Mr Lowe said. Next, you should consider the number of products offered. Investment options should include everything from bonds and equities to mutual funds, foreign exchange, insurance and other instruments. 'In terms of hardware, you should look for the diversity of products the firm offers,' Mr Lowe said. 'You want maximum exposure to a diversity of products. Even if you want a specific sector, you need maximum flexibility. More than one bank, for example, can offer products for the same sector. You want a comprehensive choice of the best products from all banks in order to select the one that best suits your needs.' When selecting an adviser, one of the most important considerations is trust. Is this really someone who has your best interests at heart? You do not want a salesman. Look for people with professional qualifications and academic training. You want someone who will tell you the advantages and disadvantages of the various instruments on offer, rather than someone who is only interested in earning commissions. When setting up a portfolio, investors should consider a variety of options. Always have enough cash or liquid investments on hand to meet current expenses and unexpected contingencies. You should also have a healthy mix of fixed income securities, high yield currencies, equities, structural products and alternative investments. The exact mix depends on your age, your goals, and your tolerance for risk. Older investors will generally be more concerned with preservation of their capital. Younger investors - because they have more time to recoup their losses should things go sour - can generally take on more risk. Entrepreneurs and those with high incomes are others who can assume greater risk. In terms of objectives, you should consider what you want to achieve. Do you want to save money for a down payment on a flat or your children's education? Do you want to preserve capital or increase your net worth? Is a comfortable and secure retirement your primary concern? 'It depends on your objectives and the tenure of your investment,' Mr Lowe said. 'If the investor can afford a longer tenure, it's more predictable. If the investor has a shorter tenure, it becomes more difficult.'