Family Matters: How to Include Your Clients’ Kids in the Financial Process

Apr 19, 2016
Great ideas from @SEIMissyP on how to bring your clients’ kids into the #financialplanning process Click To Tweet

In my last blog post, I did something I don’t like to do – I called your baby ugly and walked away. There’s nothing I hate more than when someone acts like an expert and identifies a key issue, but then never identifies potential ways to address it. If you’re such an expert, tell me what to do about it!Quote-500x350

So first off, I’m sorry for calling your baby ugly when I wrote you a letter from your client’s kid. I felt like this issue was so significant though that it worth a little tough love. (Just for the record – I’ve never actually called a baby ugly in real life.)

Regardless, I don’t intend to leave you (or your clients’ kids) hanging. So here are some actionable ideas for ways you can start including your clients’ children in the financial planning process.

Segment your clients by their kids.

The only way to prioritize your time and effort towards your clients and their kids is through segmentation. Start by identifying your “A” clients who have children, and to whom you’d feel comfortable offering extended family planning. (Perhaps you could offer this to all of your clients at some point, but this is a great test group.) Once you’ve done that, add this topic as a standard agenda item for all client meetings with this group going forward.

So the next time you meet with your client, you remember to say: “<Client name>, we’ve spoken a lot about <Children’s names> and how they fit into your plan. I think it’s important they’re aware of who I am and my role in helping shape your family’s overall financial picture. Would you be comfortable if I introduced myself or included them in one of our meetings?”

Based on their answer, it’s time to segment even further, based on your clients’ preferences. How comfortable are they with you contacting their kids or giving them insight into their parents’ current financials? Be sensitive to how open your clients want to be with their kids and note it in your CRM. You can use this later to determine how you want to approach this.

Introduce yourself, stranger.

Regardless of the outcome of your segmentation exercise, any engagement with any of your clients’ kids must start first with an introduction. This introduction can come in many different forms. Below I’ve narrowed it to a few, starting with the easiest to implement and moving to more involved or complicated options. No matter what your appetite is, you’ll hopefully find at least one that works for you.

  • Option 1: Holiday card to the family and/or kids. Include a photo of you or your team, firm logo, and your mission statement. Even though it’s not an actual introduction, this option allows the child to make a mental note of your face/name and brand (so you’re not a complete unknown).
  • Option 2: LinkedIn invitation and introduction. This automatically includes your photo, firm logo, mission statement, etc. If your clients’ kids don’t haven’t a LinkedIn account, email works too, but just be sure to include all the key components listed above. This option:
    • Allows you to make a personal introduction to explain your value proposition
    • Establishes a connection, so you’re more accessible if they ever want to reach out
    • Adds you to their newsfeeds the next time you or your firm make post something
  • Option 3: One-time estate planning meeting. Once you’ve worked with your clients on their estate planning, use this as an opportunity to meet and review that plan with your clients and their kids. Even if your clients have privacy concerns, you can still talk components of their plan (such as wills, beneficiaries, etc.) without talking exact numbers and figures. This option:
    • Allows you to meet the children in person and explain yourself and your firm
    • Establishes a relationship and open line of communication with the entire family
    • Develops a sense of transparency for the children, since they now understand your role

Extend your niche services to the family.

If you’re really serious about this, and you are currently serving a niche market, this might be a great opportunity to add value by providing additional services that serve the entire family.

Some examples:

  • If your niche is small business owners – Offering multi-generational business and succession planning services might be an unmet need of theirs. Become an expert in this type of service or partner with a lawyer or professional in this area. It’s a great way to better engage your clients and their kids in a process that’ll likely be very meaningful to them. It’s also something you’d probably want to be involved in anyway, regardless if you offer the service in-house or not.
  • If your niche is dentists in your area – It might be worthwhile to offer college planning services to those clients whose kids want to follow in their parents’ footsteps to become a doctor, too. You could help with college selection and funding options, regardless of whether the client or the child is paying for the schooling. If student loans are involved, provide guidance on how to manage them. Even offering one-time budgeting sessions to students before they go off to school might be an easy way to provide value without a lot of effort.

Smaller ways to reach out

Even if you’re not ready to implement those ideas and make a concerted effort toward being more inclusive of your clients’ children in the financial planning process, there are things you can be doing more informally to reinforce to these kids that you are:

  • Trustworthy
  • Transparent
  • Easy to reach

Maybe that means extending an invitation to your clients’ kid (with their permission, of course) next time you schedule their annual client review. Even if you just have the child there for a small portion of the meeting, at least you got that face time.

Or maybe you can look for opportunities to provide free value outside of your usual planning services. For example, the next time one of your clients’ kids is looking for a job coming out of school, see if you can offer any advice or provide a connection to someone in that line of work. Use your professional background to your advantage – it’s a free and easy service to provide, but could mean so much to your clients and their kids.

Back to the baby talk

Making a connection – any connection – to your clients’ children is a step in the right direction. And doing so puts you in the position to have some type of relationship with the next generation of clients.

See that? Your baby just got a lot better looking.

As a reminder, on Monday, April 25, John Anderon will be hosting a webinar to discuss the DOL’s game-changing fiduciary rule. He’ll discuss the implications of the rule, as well as a four-step action plan so you can prepare for, instead of react to, the changes.

Join the discussion. Register Here!

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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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