Keeping Assets in the Family

When working with a client, you’re not just working with an individual: you’re working with everyone they depend on. Who will they pass their wealth to? Who is a partner in decision-making for the household? Wealth is generational and has far-reaching impacts beyond just one person.

There are some surprising statistics that show what can happen when an advisor isn’t in touch with the people closest to their client.

It’s estimated that nearly 70% of women will leave their advisor within a year of being widowed. And with the greatest transfer of wealth in history happening right now, many young investors don’t plan to keep their parents’ advisor.

A holistic approach to client wealth can help advisors hold on to assets for the long term and increase the longevity of their business. The problem for some advisors is that it isn’t always economical to give the same service to a $5M client’s $25K child, but we believe there are solutions that make that issue a thing of the past.

An advisor needs the tools to give great service to a variety of clients with different needs and levels of care. “One-size-fits-all” doesn’t work for hats 100% of the time—it won’t work for investors either.

Keeping assets in the family is important for your client and for your firm. Developing a multi-generational wealth strategy is about building trust to manage those funds for any of your client’s beneficiaries, and making sure your client’s assets stay with you for the long haul.

We put together some ways to make that economically feasible.


The Kids Are Alright

The barrier for taking on these lower-net-worth clients is they don’t always meet your firm's asset minimums.

Let’s talk about that.

Your asset minimum is a self-imposed rule—you can break it. They exist for a reason, of course, but if anybody understands the value of making an investment, it’s advisors. There are some young clients that have tremendous potential. Buy low and hang on for the long term.

For high-net-worth clients with adult children, offering to bring their child into the fold goes a long way in deepening those relationships. No, they may not have the assets of their more-established parents right now, but they will, and won't you be glad you broke the rules down the road.

If your client’s children are already working with an advisor (or a self-directed robo like Wealthfront and Betterment), offer them a meeting to examine the risk in those portfolios. Oftentimes investors are confused and stereotyped with semantics like “conservative” or “moderately aggressive,” whatever that means. Whether you’re across the room or across the world, quantify the semantics with the Risk Number® so that you can set expectations for the long haul. The results of this initial meeting are usually eye-opening.

If your client’s adult children or spouse already have a relationship with another advisor, your efforts to keep them could be too little too late.


Get the Family Involved

For any new clients, emphasize your commitment to their family as well. When you think about wealth generationally, it's their wealth too. Making them feel included doesn’t have to be complicated or take up too much time.

Some options for getting the family involved:

  • Invite all of them to a customer appreciation event
  • Send their spouse a risk questionnaire, and suggest a joint meeting to go over each partners’ Risk Numbers together.
  • Send over materials on 401Ks and IRAs for one of their children leaving college/entering the workforce.

It’s all about building relationships, letting everyone know who you are, and offering help where you can. If they trust your judgment and see you as someone they can turn to from the beginning, keeping assets with you is easy.

For any existing clients, find ways to include their spouse or their adult children. For couples, retirement affects both of them. Retirement Maps are a great way to illustrate progress and open up the conversation for deeper discussions: what retirement accounts are missing from your map, how can you develop a “family” retirement plan, etc.


The Right Tech Makes It Easy

Let’s say that you do decide to take on your client’s lower-net-worth child, for the relationship and for the continuation of assets. How do you make that profitable? The key is implementing tech that cuts down on backend processes and creating channels in your business where you give your time and resources where they add the most value.

Technology enables advisors to automate tedious processes like filling out paperwork and taking payments, skyrocketing practice efficiency. Even a process like rebalancing portfolios doesn’t have to be manual. With new technology, the yellow legal pad becomes a thing of the past. For lower-income clients, the more automated the processes you use, the more cost-effective it is to bring them into the fold.

We developed Autopilot Trading so that advisors could reduce the amount of time they spend on tedious tasks and more time on where it matters most: giving great advice.


The consequences of not including the family in your practice can be grim. Advisors lose an average of 70% to 80% of a client's assets following a client death. By making yourself an essential part of the family’s financial plans, and working with them as they build wealth themselves, you can avoid this loss and build deep relationships for years to come.


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