Citing a need for an organization to support financial advisers, accountants, insurance agents, attorneys and other professionals who serve the high-net-worth market, a group of advisers from around the nation has launched the Wealth Advisor Institute.

The Washington-based group will concentrate on offering professional development opportunities through a highly regimented curriculum, including courses that can help advisers earn continuing education credit. In response to initial feedback from advisers, the institute will also devise a best practices set of standards and guidelines for advisory practices. Advisers have often complained of a lack of unbiased, objective formal training, and a poor perception among the public.

A board of directors, which will draw insights, in part, from an advisory council, will govern the Wealth Advisor Institute. Funding will come from membership dues and sponsorships. The group presently is devising a schedule for upcoming presentations and seminars.

"Our goal is to bridge the industry's professional education gap by giving our members the knowledge and information they need to help compete and succeed," said David Grau, president of the Wealth Advisor Institute. Grau is also the founder and chief executive of Business Transitions, a financial adviser business broker based in Portland, Ore.

The organization will also track the behavior and needs of high-net-worth clients.

"There is a growing demand for expert, professional advice on asset management, income distribution, tax issues, trust and estate planning, and wealth protection and transfer strategies," said Keith Gregg, institute chairman and executive vice president and chief sales officer for a private wealth management firm in San Diego, Durham & Associates Investment Counsel.

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