A common challenge among many advisory practices is an aging client base and trying to find a way to connect with the next generation of those clients. A 2015 Investment News study concluded that 66% of children fire their parent’s advisor.1 One reason for that may be that 71% of advisors surveyed in the same study indicated they meet with their client’s children less than once per year or not at all. It’s not surprising the #1 reason they cited for why the children don’t rehire them was due to a lack of a relationship. In this article, I’d like to share three things to consider when creating a culture that is inclusive of your client’s children.

Please note that some of your clients will be private and choose not to include their children in their wealth planning process. You must respect that decision and focus on the clients who want to include their entire family in the planning process.

Approach: Your style and approach to connecting with the children of your clients may be different than the style in which you engaged their parents. It is possible that the next generation (including adult children) will prefer an advisor who acts more as a coach or catalyst helping them think through what they need to plan for. Oftentimes there isn’t a service or product they need to buy from you, but if you can help them start the conversation about planning then your potential for adding value and forming a relationship may go up. Using visuals and a whiteboard where both you and they add content is one way of helping foster the conversation. Try avoiding the use of brochures, presentations and other collateral during the conversation. If you can’t draw out and help them see the process you may not connect as easily with them.

Create a Community: Believe it or not, the next generation is willing to attend client events. Here are a few ideas for getting a good turnout from the children. Have the client event centered around an experience. Here are a few examples of things I’ve seen work:

  • Host an annual pumpkin or apple orchard trip. Rent a shuttle and have the clients meet at your office or another meeting spot. This saves them time and cost of parking for an activity they might have been doing already.
  • Host an afternoon or evening gathering at a local brewery, art gallery, wine shop or hip new restaurant.
  • Host a gathering for the annual fireworks show, sporting event or concert.

You should consider limiting any description of your business to a simple statement around your why. For example, you could thank everyone for attending your client gathering and mention how family is the highest priority in your life. Discuss how at your firm, you obsess over making sure your clients are planning their future and protecting their future for the generations that follow. Mention that you hope today can be a catalyst for any ideas or dreams they want to pursue and you are always there to help them create a plan for reaching those dreams.

Provide Education: I like to believe that most of us are always on the hunt for more information that makes us better. There’s an old saying by Albert Einstein, who says “once you stop learning you start dying.” Your clients and the next generation are no different. Some good topics for the next generation are 529 college planning options and benefits, creating a will, protecting assets, cybersecurity, investing early and often, dangers of debt, etc. Try to think of content that allows you to be a catalyst for a conversation about what the next generation will need to plan for and consider.

Never forget that you are in the relationship business. You handle money and a lot of important decisions, but there are real people and generations of families that have the potential to benefit from your advice. Without a relationship, those plans could be jeopardized. Help the next generation think about their lives and you may become a bigger part of them.

1 Liz Skinner, The Great Wealth Transfer is Coming, Pulling Advisors at Risk (InvestmentNews, 2015)

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