Good advisors tell their clients, “Failing to plan means you’re planning to fail.” But what about you? Through all of the time you spend planning for others, are you failing to address the future of another important party—yourself?
The painful truth is that at some point your clients will pass on, and without the proper plan, you’ll lose the assets that you and your firm have worked so hard to manage and grow. You must therefore develop a plan to avoid the gradual drain of assets over time. The basis of any sound plan involves reaching out to your client’s children, heirs and beneficiaries today. Not down the line, not in a few years or months. Today.
Think about it: If ever there was a dream client, your client’s children are it. You’re already familiar with them through your client’s wills, trusts and retirement plans. Best of all, you have the strongest possible reference to facilitate the introduction—their parents. Here are some strategies that our firm employs—they’ll help you foster relationships with your clients’ children, too:
- Add the names of your clients’ children to your monthly newsletter and invite them to client events. These are small steps that require little time or money, but will help you build a relationship. By sending out your newsletter and invitations, you fortify your name in the children’s mind.
- Ask your clients to bring their children and heirs to review meetings. By inviting your client’s children to meetings, you have the opportunity to bring them into the planning process. They’ll better understand what you do and what you can offer them. At these meetings, be sure to go over any estate plan—how it’s set up—while discussing the legacy your client wants to leave his children.
- Take advantage of your firm’s younger professionals. Like it or not, most planners with 20-25 years experience have a difficult time relating to younger clients and/or a client’s children. By setting up a strategic partnership with a younger advisor in your firm (or elsewhere), you can forge a relationship with long-term potential for everyone. As an added benefit, the process will provide an opportunity for a younger advisor to grow professionally. It will also boost his morale by providing challenges and allowing him to work competitively. In addition, the advisor will feel empowered by the trust you have placed in him. These factors should improve the overall production of your business in both the short and long term.
Here’s one example of how to bring a younger advisor into the equation: Mr. and Mrs. Client have two sons, David and Peter. Both are several years out of college, financially independent (a rarity today), and each engaged to be married. Mr. and Mrs. Client have recommended for years that the boys come and “speak with you,” but to date, neither has done so. At your latest review meeting, you offer to contact the boys directly and set up a meeting.
Mr. and Mrs. Client think this is an excellent idea. You have your receptionist set the appointment. When David and Peter come in (separately, of course), you introduce yourself as well as a junior advisor—someone closer in age to David and Peter and, therefore, in the same stage of life.
David and Peter may be better able to relate with this junior advisor on topics like preparing to get married, purchasing a first home, maxing out employer retirement plans, opening a Roth IRA, or whether a five-year interest-only or a 10-year interest-only loan makes sense, given their cash flow.
It’s time you took some time away from planning for others to make sure you secure your own future. Advisors must take the time to develop a plan now, or face the consequences in a future that comes closer every day.
Brian T. Jones, CFP, is vice president of Cooper, Jones & McLeland in Fairfax, Va. Jones is 34 years old and the author of Getting Started: The Financial Guide For A Younger Generation (Larstan 2006. For more information, visit www.GettingStartedFinance.com.