Three Keys To Connect With Clients’ Children

With The Great Wealth Transfer Upon Us, Experts From PCIA, MAI Capital And Crewe Advisors Share Crucial Steps To Connect With – And Retain – Clients’ Children

Janeesa Hollingshead, Contributing Editor, Wealth Solutions Report

It’s been on the radar of professionals throughout our industry for years: the Great Wealth Transfer that will shift trillions of dollars from baby boomers and the Silent Generation to their heirs over the next two decades. For financial advisors, retaining the assets that will change hands is not a passive endeavor. Innovations and techniques designed to bridge the gap between advisors and heirs are already in play.

However, in a relationship-centric industry like wealth management, successfully engaging these NextGen investors requires a solid foundation to build upon … one of respect, communication and trust.

To learn how to build those foundations, we reached out to the following experts:

We asked each of them the following question:

Given that the greatest wealth transfer in history will continue to gain steam over the coming years, connecting with your clients’ children is more important than ever. What are three key steps advisors can take to make a genuine connection with the upcoming generation to ensure retention of the children as clients when the wealth transfers from their parents?

Their responses are below.

Joan Malloy, Regional President And Senior Managing Director, MAI Capital Management

Joan Malloy, Regional President & Senior Managing Director, MAI Capital Management

Cultivate the children of clients as you would cultivate any prospect. Invite them to ask questions and actively listen to their responses. Don’t assume they have knowledge of finances or that you know what they need or want. If appropriate, encourage them to open an account and waive any of your firm’s minimums or reduce fees. Taking the initial steps toward building a long-term relationship is key.

Help them personally with a career connection, a hobby hookup or an educational session related to something that interests them (e.g., taxes, trusts or private equity). As the saying goes, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Proactively share relevant planning advice they can use now. Answering questions about 401(k)s or family driving contracts allow you to provide valuable knowledge and information, while demonstrating value to them separate from their parents.

Meet with adult children of elderly clients to establish a “trusted contact” network so they feel comfortable reaching out to share information regarding their parents’ health declines. Children usually are in frequent contact with their parents and may be the first to identify signs of deterioration in their mental or physical health.

Will O’Rourke, Financial Advisor, North Texas Market, Prime Capital Investment Advisors (PCIA)

Will O’Rourke, Financial Advisor, North Texas Market, Prime Capital Investment Advisors

Establish effective multi-generational communication channels. For most families, the topic of death and plans for parsing wealth among beneficiaries are uncomfortable and, for some, morbid. However, millennials need to confront this difficult conversation rather than ignore it. In a recent Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America study, 16% of millennials displayed a “relatively high” level of financial literacy.

Families need trusted financial advisors who are familiar with each generation’s attitude toward money, can meet each generation where they are and who understand the financial goals of beneficiaries.

Put a support system in place. Millennials have higher expectations of their financial advisors than the baby boomer population. Unlike their predecessors, millennials gravitate toward a holistic approach to financial and estate planning. As a result, financial advisors should prepare for estate planning discussions with their clients and their children, and have a deep bench of CPAs, attorneys and other professionals ready to provide support now and during this massive wealth transfer.

Emphasize tax-efficient estate planning. Estate taxes can equal up to 40% of an inheritance, so high net worth individuals should assess whether they are taking advantage of lifetime gifts and insurance products to minimize the taxable portion of their estate. Advisors should also be prepared to discuss tools such as revocable trusts, irrevocable life insurance trusts (ILITs) and grantor retained annuity trusts (GRATs).

Marshall Nelson, Wealth Advisor, Crewe Advisors

Marshall Nelson, Wealth Advisor, Crewe Advisors

Be involved in the estate planning process for your clients. Talk to them about the different children they might designate as medical or financial powers of attorney and/or executor(s) of their will. You could also act as a liaison between your client and his/her estate planning attorney. This will teach you more about their children than almost anything else, help you to assess the intricacies of their relationships and inform how to work with those children through asset transfers.

Host client appreciation events – fun activities your clients’ children would want to bring their own children to, such as a movie, carnival or picnic. This is a great way to get to know the heirs on a first-name basis – and for them to become familiar with you. Knowing who manages their parents’ money will give them confidence in working with you as wealth transfers occur down the road.

As appropriate, ask your clients if you can give their children a call to inform them of any ongoing financial developments. It really doesn’t matter what you call to talk about, as long as the call is happening. This will get them used to hearing from you and it will allow for a much smoother transition as wealth is transferred.

Janeesa Hollingshead, Contributing Editor at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at

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