Most advisors help their clients build a thorough financial plan including estate planning, long-term care funding and income building. Yet, once their clients’ health begins to deteriorate and their children become more involved in their finances, the next generation can sometimes make demands, question the entire plan or move the assets to their own advisor.
Most advisors lose the next generation at their client’s passing, but the shift begins long before that. How can advisors maintain their client relationships and build new relationships with the next generation? One way is to hold a series of family meetings to get everyone on board in a proactive fashion instead of being reactive. When it comes to forming a deep relationship with your clients and the next generation, take into account their finances, their health, their estate, their legacy of heirlooms and their most prized possessions. How can you be a part of all these conversations?
Once a client retires, the first session begins with a family meeting. During this meeting, an advisor should discuss basic retirement information with the children, ensure everyone understands expectations, and outline estate documents. The baby boomer generation is typically called the sandwich generation because they tend to take care of their parents as well as their children and sometimes even grandchildren. Young adults have been getting more financial support from their parents than ever before, especially with the rise of student loan debt. Family meetings can give your clients a safe place for them to discuss with their children how the financial support they’ve been receiving will end and when. The longer this discussion lingers, the longer it will take to get the children off the payroll.
“Family meetings can give your clients a safe place for them to discuss with their children how the financial support they’ve been receiving will end and when. The longer this discussion lingers, the longer it will take to get the children off the payroll.”
Let the children in on the estate planning process so they know who they can rely on for help. It’ll take the burden and pressure of having to make tough decisions off the children. Too many families are torn apart after a death in the family because of disagreements and misunderstandings about family finances. The more aware they are from the start, the better. Help your client’s children understand the role of a power of attorney or executor of a will so they aren’t blindsided by the extra work or resentful of it. Let everyone know you are an ally and a resource to be used during the planning years, but also during the implementation of long-term care and estate needs.
Family Meetings Build Trust Over Time
When our client, Lisa, started calling our office at random times, asking repetitive questions, we knew something was wrong. Lisa has been a client for 20 years, and her new behavior was quite alarming. Throughout the years, we always brought Lisa’s daughter into our planning meetings. She came to our events and we developed a nice relationship with her entire family. It made a very hard phone call a little easier knowing Lisa’s daughter so well. On the phone, we expressed our concerns over Lisa and asked for everyone to come into our office for a meeting.
Our first meeting was an open discussion to talk about next steps to financially prepare Lisa if she needs long term care, a power of attorney and such. We quickly followed the meeting with another family meeting and included Lisa’s estate attorney. After our series of meetings, Lisa was immediately relieved as was her daughter. We became the project manager and ran all of the meetings with the other professionals: accountant, estate attorney and even a home organizer. Lisa’s house was professionally organized so if the time comes, they can quickly make a decision to sell or rent it and not worry about the family heirlooms, photo albums, and great grandparents’ recipe books getting lost in the shuffle.
We have always been the point of contact when clients need a professional. It allows us to become even more ingrained in our clients lives, to develop a more holistic plan beyond the dollars, and be the professional bringing everyone together.
After having the initial family meeting, you can accompany it with another meeting as your client’s health needs change. Maybe they need surgery, have had a heart attack, or another health scare. The more proactive you can become with the planning, the more proactive you will seem to the client’s family in all aspects of their wealth.
Position Yourself as the Expert
Finally, there are always changes in the world of taxes, markets and estate laws. Position yourself as the expert and go-to professional by bringing new changes up before they happen. Make your clients aware, be strategic, and show your worth.
During your family meetings, bring up your initial plan, any adjustments that need to be made, or any tax or estate law changes that will impact the plan. As advisors, we can forget our worth, but the more you can show your knowledge, experience, and bring attention to new changes, the more valuable you will be to the entire household. You become a part of the family, always there for them during the good times and especially the bad times.
Involving your client’s family in all stages of their financial planning is one way to show your value to the current and future generations of clients. Thinking ahead and setting up a long-term plan of regular meetings, will help you build relationships that grow more valued over time.
As financial advisors, we don’t just manage money, we manage lives!
Jessica Weaver, CFP, CDFA, CFS, is a wealth advisor, author of three best-selling books, and multi-media contributor. She is the founder of the Women’s Wealth Boutique, an advisory shop for women, made by women. Jess’s mission is to help more women gain control, clarity, and confidence over their finances and the next chapter of their life. She has interviewed thousands of women to get to the core of their money concerns, stresses, and frustrations.