Since writing that fake letter to my parents’ financial advisor, where I called out their advisor for never contacting me, including me in any planning, or proving they were trustworthy, I’ve gotten a lot of response. I’ve had friends contact their parents to finally meet their financial advisor (woohoo!). I’ve had clients ask if I heard from any angry advisors (luckily not). My parents even forwarded the blog to their financial advisor (imagine how excited he was to meet me). The point is – it hit on a very real issue. The vast majority of advisors are one-generational firms, focusing all their efforts on serving the typical retirees and pre-retirees. And unfortunately, the vast majority of these advisors will be fired by their clients’ kids once they inherit their parents’ wealth… that is, unless you work to transition to a multi-generational planning practice. Here’s how one firm did it.
Why they do it
Meet Kim Kantor, one of the lead advisors and founders of Ciccarelli Advisory Services, Inc., a family-focused wealth management firm consisting of 7 advisors, 7 associate advisors and several client services associates. This firm is multi-generational to the core, sometimes touching as many as 4 generations within a family. Their value proposition is providing comprehensive planning services to families, bridging the gap between generations and facilitating discussions around their wealth.
Growing up, Kim and her siblings recall regular Saturday morning family meetings, discussing important financial issues that so many families never talk about, such as loans, budgeting and investing. The passion her father had in his career in finance helping families address their concerns and issues, had a positive effect on their family dynamic, as well as their career aspirations. When Kim and her brother, Ray, started building their financial advisory firm together, they recognized the need to provide multi-generational planning. In order to help plan for their clients’ entire lifetimes, they needed to know the entire family. They didn’t want to grow account by account and simply focus on AUM; rather, they wanted to grow by relationships and focus on the family.
How they do it
There are three primary ways that Kim and the Ciccarelli Advisory Services (CAS) team are able to offer value to their clients, while also getting introduced to their clients’ kids:
1. Offer financial planning as a gift that clients can pay for and provide to their kids.
The CAS team is diligent about ensuring their clients know they can help any family member with financial questions or concerns. So much so, that they offer their clients the opportunity to pay a flat fee for financial planning as a gift to their kids. The goal here is not to generate profit, but to break even on costs, provide value to a current client (the parents) and a potential prospect (the kid), and play the long game (hoping that they might potentially consider them as a financial advisor down the road). They essentially take the costs of their normal planning package for pure prospects and cut that in half for relationship pricing.
2. Know when to bring the kids into the planning process.
Because of their experience in multi-generational planning, the CAS team can pinpoint the appropriate moment to bring other family members into the picture for estate planning purposes. Whether it’s time to plan ahead for the eventual transition of wealth or facilitate a discussion about a sensitive, financial decision that might impact the rest of the family – their value is in bringing the family together for those important conversations. This family interaction varies from something as simple as a meeting to review the client’s estate plan, to a formal family retreat for multiple generations of family members.
3. Offer auxiliary services that support families through financial life events.
Over time, the firm’s services have naturally expanded in other meaningful ways. For example, they help some of their older clients write books to share their stories with their kids or convey their philanthropic thinking. Every time a grandparent or parent establishes a 529 plan, they reach out to the child to explain the meaning of this account and why they created it. Every time there’s an addition to the family or a birthday, they send a piggy bank as a way to introduce themselves. It’s gestures like these that establish even the smallest connection to the next generation of family to show that the CAS team is there and that they care.
If you’re serious about going multi-generational, you need to make sure the team is wholeheartedly onboard. First and foremost, the team needs to holistically utilize the CRM. Kim’s firm is multi-office and feels it’s important they take a team approach to serving their families. So it’s particularly important to her that any client or family member can walk into any one of their offices with any one of their team members and receive help on the spot. This would not be possible if the team wasn’t diligent about entering every note, meeting, task, etc. into each contact record in their CRM.
Second, you need buy-in from all team members that they’re fully committed to this family-focused philosophy. Kim has been practicing family planning since the start of her career, so much so that she even has 70 year-old clients who she still calls “the kids” of the family (and by the way, her clients wouldn’t have it any other way). It’s so important to her that this type of culture is perpetuated by the next generation of advisors within her firm. This is an intangible that can’t be taught; rather, you need an understanding of the true value and benefit of family planning.
The goal should not be to become a profit center; rather, your focus should be on the long-term advantage. Recognize that your current clients are best served when you can work with the entire family. If you work in that capacity and help bridge the gap between generations within the family, the primary impact is that you’re helping facilitate your clients’ estate plan and successful transition of wealth. The indirect impact is that you’re developing long-lasting relationships with the entire family, so you’ll likely retain that wealth even after the transition – and you’re developing your next generation of clientele.
You’d be surprised how many of your clients’ kids are interested in your services. Kids have a misperception that financial advisors are just for their wealthy parents or grandparents, so it takes you reaching out and introducing yourself to alter that perception. Continually communicate that you’re willing and able to help all family members – that you’re a family-focused firm here to serve all generations and provide all the resources they need.
The opinions and views expressed herein are those of Kim Kantor. SEI bears no responsibility for their accuracy. Kim Kantor and Ciccarelli Advisory Services, Inc. are not affiliated with SEI or its subsidiaries