Educating the Adult Children of a Client Couple

For advisors whose clients’ children or grandchildren are under about age 35, developing general educational programs can pay dividends in the form of greater appreciation on the part of a less-engaged client spouse, as well as planting the seed among members of the younger generations that “grandma and grandpa’s” advisor is their advisor too.

Next-generation education and counseling is helpful too in that it can allay fears and concerns among the client couple that their adult children will misuse or squander whatever inheritance is given them. Raising the issue of wealth transfer with clients within the context of a program of financial education demonstrates that the advisor cares about the future success of their children.

Having younger members of an advisory team or an advisor’s junior partner serve as the link to adult children can be an effective way to carry out the engagement program. A client’s adult child in his or her 30s or 40s is probably correct in assuming that a parent’s advisor in his or her 60s will not be available to provide advice when the adult child is on the brink of retirement.

Moreover, the older advisor is not likely to communicate in the style of the adult child—who may prefer text messages to phone calls, for instance, or a FaceTime chat to an in-person meeting. An attempt at serving a multigenerational family with a multi-generation advisory team, therefore, offers greater odds of success.

A key way to engage adult children in the relationship is simply to provide them with financial advice even if their wealth or income falls below an advisor’s regular minimums. Much like family offices for the extremely affluent, an advisor whose clients are modestly affluent can help their adult children with the wide array of financially related issues that arise at their life stage.

These can include buying a house, starting college savings programs for their young children, making sense of their workplace retirement plans, budgeting, understanding the importance of having in place legal documents such as wills and medical power of attorney forms, and understanding their insurance needs.

Helping adult children with these issues—again, perhaps by having younger team members do the work and manage regularly scheduled interactions—cements the advisor’s ties to adult children and underscores the sense of the relationship’s continuity even after the parents pass away.

The increase in longevity and the growing numbers of advisory clients in their late 80s and 90s have given rise to a relatively new dynamic for advisors trying to engage the next generation— dealing with the children of clients who themselves are nearing or are in retirement.

Many of these aging “children” may already have advisory relationships, but many may not. Others may have multiple or unsatisfactory advisory relationships and would be willing to move assets to an advisor who they felt understood and addressed their needs. Working with them by providing information and assistance with their aging parents can be an effective way to engage them.

Helping to provide valuable information—or referrals to experts—in the areas of detecting and preventing elder fraud and abuse, assisted living and nursing home care, Medicare and Medicaid procedures, attorneys specializing in elder law, and guidance about hiring aides and companions can be a godsend.

Older children dealing with the often bewildering complexity of helping elderly parents can feel overwhelmed when those duties are added to dealing with the challenges of their own lives as they near or enter retirement, when they find themselves juggling the demands of their own adult children and grandchildren. Any assistance and guidance advisors can provide is often greatly appreciated and demonstrates the advisor’s professionalism and level of care.

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