Life, Legacy and the Pursuit of Your Clients’ Kids

Jul 11, 2017

Do you remember that controversial letter I wrote to my parents’ financial advisor? Over a year later, and I still haven’t heard from my parents’ advisor…and I’m going to guess maybe some of you still haven’t reached out to your clients’ kids. So many advisors continue to interact with only one generation of a family (usually the Baby Boomer parents). Leaving your clients’ kids with no awareness or understanding of the value you bring to the table – or worse, feeling very distrustful and uncertain about whether they’d ever want to work with you.

Even if you just do financial planning directly with the parents, we all know that has far-reaching effects across all the other generations within the family. But the question really remains: How do you get that opportunity to get in front of your clients’ kids so you can demonstrate your true value? This week’s guest blogger is Abby Schneiderman, Co-CEO of Everplans, a life and legacy platform focused on facilitating these types of discussions between advisors and their clients, to open that door to the next generation.

kidsI recently spoke on a panel at an SEI advisor conference. The topic: How advisors should be leveraging technology to do multi-generational planning within the same family. It’s a big focus right now, and rightly so. A stat that’s widely talked (and worried) about reports that 95% of children fire the financial advisor after they receive an inheritance – and yet according to a study we recently did, 93% of advisors believe they’re going to retain those assets. Investment News reported that over the next 30 years, an epic $30 trillion will be passed down from generation to generation.

This is obviously a major concern for advisors, so finding solutions and learning about how to prepare for this has, for many, become a big focus. I could visibly see the worry in the facial expressions in the room when we discussed it. During the talk, I mentioned that I don’t really know my own parents’ financial advisors and that I couldn’t believe that they had not done a better job of forming a relationship with me.

After the session, an advisor approached me asking why I cared that my parents’ financial advisor had not reached out to me. He said that I almost seemed offended by it. At first, I thought it was obvious for all the reasons we had discussed during the presentation:

  • It’s important for advisors to reach out to establish a deeper client relationship
  • Using technology, like ours, can help and be an incredible facilitator
  • Helping clients get all of their affairs in order is the perfect way to establish a good relationship with your clients’ kids, who will then request the same type of planning services and be more likely become your next generation of clients

But then I realized something – this advisor wasn’t questioning me because he didn’t think it was important. He was actually questioning me, because he truly wanted to know the answer. Here I was – a 37-year old mom of two little kids, who has a parent in her 70s and a parent in his 80s. I was the exact example of the type of client he was looking to reach. He was looking for my opinion on how a person in my situation would choose him as an advisor.

If not now, when?

Yes, I guess I am a little offended my parents’ advisors haven’t done a better job of creating a relationship with me. Shouldn’t they want me as a client, too – if not today, then someday? But more importantly, the fact that they haven’t reached out means they’re not thinking beyond the numbers. Why wouldn’t they want their clients’ kids to understand the planning they’ve done and how vital they are to my entire family? They could use this to win me over. But the fact they’re not doesn’t bode well for getting me as a client.

Not engaging the next generation not only means the kids will take the money and run after their parents are gone, but I could see some even convincing their parents to leave that advisor now and go with someone who is more forward-thinking about their practice, utilizing newer technology and working with younger generations of investors.

This doesn’t have to be the case. There are many ways for advisors to start engaging the next generation. We’re working really hard on building bridges and have found that a perfect way to start engaging both ends of the “generation” is by helping your clients gather all the important information their family needs for estate and legacy planning purposes. It doesn’t begin and end at their financial accounts, legal documents and life insurance policies. You want to help capture and organize everything, from household information, electronic passcodes, pet information, and family recipes – everything your client would want to ensure gets passed along to the next generation. If you can help your clients and their families talk about this together and help them get it organized, then suddenly you’re at the foundation of some really important family discussions. You’re an important bridge between multiple generations within the same family – helping to hold it all together.

Over the next few months, I’ll be digging into this more. I am going to interview parents, their kids and advisors to try to understand even more about this pressing issue. I’ll be posting this as a series on Everplans blog, so stay tuned.

Abby Schneiderman is an entrepreneur, innovator and visionary leader with a passion for finding ways to use technology to make people’s lives better. She was recently named to Fast Company’s list of the most creative people in business in 2016. Together with Adam Seifer, she is currently the co-founder and co-CEO of Everplans.com, a life and legacy planning company dedicated to transforming the way people get their families organized. Everplans Professional is used by advisors across the country who want to take multigenerational planning to the next level. For more information, visit: everplans.com/sei.

The opinions and views expressed herein are those of Abby Schneiderman. SEI bears no responsibility for their accuracy.  Abby Schneiderman and Everplans are not affiliated with SEI or its subsidiaries

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Missy Pohlig

Missy Pohlig

Missy Pohlig is the millennial contributor for Practically Speaking and also serves as Program Manager for the Solutions Team in the SEI Advisor Network.

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