Tips for proactive, personalized planning to connect with clients’ heirs

The Great Wealth Transfer has been a topic of conversation for years, long before the COVID-19 pandemic circled the globe. Though its threat has waned considerably, the pandemic continues to have a measurable impact. Life expectancies in the U.S. dropped by nearly a full year in 2021, on top of the 1.8 year decline in 2020 — the biggest two-year decline in a century.1

Demographic shifts, employment numbers and aging populations continue to gain the attention of financial professionals and their clients, regardless of mortality rates. While these types of changes have the potential to increase the demand for financial services, there’s no guarantee that current clients’ heirs and beneficiaries will want to hire you.

But wealth transfer doesn’t have to mean the end of client relationships. By taking steps now to cultivate and strengthen ties with clients’ loved ones, you may be better positioned to help their heirs make good planning and investment decisions with the wealth they inherit, and to cultivate lifelong relationships that grow your practice.

Lay the groundwork today for tomorrow’s relationships

Tomorrow’s clients may well be the result of today’s networking and outreach. Here are seven factors to keep in mind as you create your practice-building strategies centered around today’s client relationships.

1. Start the conversation now

In the same way you’d encourage any individual to start saving early and often, your business growth strategy needs to include conversations that start sooner than later. Waiting for the inevitable puts you at a disadvantage in several ways. First, your clients’ children might already receive financial advice elsewhere. Second, illness and death puts families under intense emotional strain. Approaching them to discuss finances and wealth transfer at such a time is not only in poor taste; it could lead to strained conversations with distressed family members.

2. Focus on people, not just numbers

As you focus on helping your client’s family, take a holistic approach that demonstrates your interest in their lives beyond their finances. That means paying attention to major life milestones involving clients’ children: graduation from college, first jobs, marriages, home purchases, births of grandchildren and more. You might send a note of congratulations and an offer to talk about options for planning or investing.

Acknowledging the financial impacts of these events is a way of showing that you care and want to help clients by putting your professional experience to work for them. When you extend concern toward their children, you help clients help you, as they can bridge generational gaps and invite their families to engage with you and your services.

3. Reach out to clients’ heirs

Grow your network of contacts by being proactive and offering meetings with clients’ children. Even if they’re not quite ready for financial services, you can help lay a foundation of confidence and demonstrate your knowledge and willingness to share it. That can help keep you top of mind when the need for a financial professional arises.

Consider holding specially focused workshops, webinars or events tailored to the needs of young people, and ask clients to help you promote them to their families and friends. Offer complimentary consultations to discuss the basics of budgeting, credit, financial planning and getting a head start on retirement planning. 

4. Acknowledge important differences between generations

No two generations face the same challenges, experience the same opportunities or embrace the same outlook on life. Expect to see differences in values and attitudes around money, wealth, education, employment, home ownership and more.

At the same time, it’s reasonable to expect different sources of financial stress and anxiety among heirs. And remember, just because those stressors are different from previous generations doesn’t mean they’re less valid — or that those fears and anxieties aren’t just as likely to impact their decision-making. 

Our award-winning Behavioral Finance Advice program can help you prepare for conversations to help them make better financial decisions now — and that can help them to be in a position to make better choices when they inherit wealth in the future.

6. Be ready to communicate on their terms and in their language

As you focus on younger generations, pay close attention to how they want to connect with you. Chances are, they may prefer different communication styles and touchpoints than their parents and grandparents. 

It’s important for your website to not only be user-friendly, but mobile-friendly, as more people rely on smartphones for online access. Ask new clients whether they prefer email or text communications. And do they want to connect via video conferencing versus in-person? Mobile apps for professional services have become a standard expectation as well. Attracting and retaining younger clientele might require greater proficiency with various technologies, so take the time to learn and implement new ways of communicating.

7. Demonstrate your readiness to embrace change

You may discover that the first thing younger prospects do, even after receiving a referral from a trusted family member, is online research. Your online presence is an important part of your networking and prospecting, so invest time and effort in your LinkedIn profile to ensure it’s current and showcases your financial knowledge in a way that engenders confidence. Likewise, make sure your website (if permitted) is easy to find, simple to navigate and encourages additional interaction, either online or in person.

There’s plenty of business to gain — or lose

You can’t control the future, but you can take control of your approach to growing your business and strengthening client relationships, no matter their age. Get started by tapping into our Acceleration® program. Its modules were created to give you more than just ideas; you’ll get step-by-step guidance to deepen client relationships, build confidence, offer better client services and grow your practice. Click the link below to get started today.

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