Most wealthy people have worked hard their entire lives to build their fortunes. They want to ensure a lasting legacy, but are well aware this is easier said than done. According to research from The Williams Group, 70% of families lose their assets from one generation to the next, and 90% of families lose their assets by the third generation.
If you are an advisor like me, you see this as an opportunity. I believe it is the job of advisors to do more than help clients grow their assets. We should play an integral role in assisting them build a legacy that lasts for multiple generations.
Cultivating your client’s legacy can also be key to the longevity and long-term growth of your firm. But doing so requires a deep commitment to and understanding of the needs of your clients as well as a plan that includes developing your firm’s next generation of advisors. Both are essential to achieving your client’s goals as well as those for your business.
For you to build an effective plan to help clients achieve a lasting legacy, their children must be involved in the process and implementation. We have found that matching our next-gen advisors with the next generation of clients helps ensure the success of the plan. The millennial investor wants to learn and get advice from peers.
Including the next generation of advisors on your team also provides confidence to older clients that your firm will outlast them. It also strengthens your firm by bringing diversity in thought and understanding.
With a strong team, you can better address the problems that need to be solved. The first thing to recognize is that you’ll need to have ongoing dialogue with these clients and make adjustments when needed. Parents often miss crucial matters that should be dealt with when they are alive. Doing well with money is not always just about what you know. It is about how you behave. And behavior is hard to teach, even to smart people.
What follows are practical ways that advisors can steward clients’ legacies by talking with their adult children.
Personal Finance and Investing
Parents can help instruct their children about the value of money and be open about the family’s financial situation from an early age. It’s never too late to start. No matter what age beneficiaries are, it is crucial to communicate about finances.
We encourage our clients to let us reach out to their adult children and initiate conversations about personal finance and investing. They delegate this to us and find relief in allowing us to empower the next generation by communicating their financial plan.
A couple we have worked with for over a decade has four adult children. Initially, we started managing their investments, then designed a retirement distribution strategy and helped them successfully retire. They wished they learned about investing earlier and wanted to help their children make wise choices with money. I recommended they allow us to reach out to them to provide education and offer to be a resource. Currently, three of their children are clients of our firm and we have provided financial coaching to the other child.
It is vital to have a long-term financial plan and an estate plan. Adult children should be brought into the conversation, so they can better understand their parent’s legacy desires and wishes.
By engaging with them, we hope to provide inspiration on why it is important to carry out that legacy and then provide ongoing education and resources—essentially, being a partner and advisor to them.
Another client lost her spouse to a terminal illness and she wanted help involving her adult children in her financial and legacy planning. I first spoke to my client about her wishes and desired outcome. We then planned what I call a legacy lunch with her kids. The agenda included an overview of how mom and dad achieved financial independence, essentially honoring their dad’s legacy, and then outlining the plan we designed for their mom. This included gifting some stock to her children, for whom we opened accounts. As a result, we have established ongoing relationships with them.
Education is an important piece and needs to be ongoing to see the plan succeed and continually engage with the next generation. We have found that having multi-generational relationships with an advisor and their team can help provide guidance and ongoing support to the beneficiaries. Education is often received generously coming from a third party rather than the parents.
A successful strategy we encourage is allowing us to facilitate a family legacy session with the client and their beneficiaries. In this meeting the goal is to communicate the family legacy plan and express what our firm’s commitment and part is in the plan. On an ongoing basis, our job is to intentionally keep these conversations alive.
Part of stewarding relationships with the next generation is to actively keep them engaged with your firm. This includes offering educational webinars on subjects that are of interest to them, conducting regular financial coaching or reviews, and occasionally holding joint meetings with the full family. Don’t forget to have fun too. We have rented out aquariums and held a summer picnic to encourage multi-generational participation.
Getting involved with your client’s beneficiaries is a win/win. It can seem overwhelming to invest time and resources to serve the younger generation, but I assure you it is essential to retaining those relationships once your client dies.
Using a team approach for serving multi-generational clients displays the true power of diversity and capability that you are the firm of choice for your client now and into the future.
Julia Carlson is the founder and CEO of Financial Freedom Wealth Management Group, LLC in Newport, Ore., and is co-founder of CEO Financial Advisor Mastermind. Her email is Julia@juliamcarlson.com. She also invites you to check out her personal website, www.juliamcarlson.com