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Bridge the Gap With the Next Generation of Heirs

Bridge the Gap With the Next Generation of Heirs

The best financial advisors pride themselves on their ability to navigate a client through the emotions of the market, helping them deal with the issues that come with having wealth and needing income.

The ever-maturing children of the baby boomers stand to inherit more than $30 trillion from their parents over the next 30 years. Having a strategy to make inroads with your boomer clients’ children could mean the difference between retaining and growing assets, or losing them.

The best financial advisors pride themselves on their ability to navigate a client through the emotions of the market, helping them deal with the issues that come with having wealth and needing income. Yet few events are more wrought with emotion than the generational transfer of wealth.

Advisors not only have to deal with the emotions of market risk, but add to that: family dynamics, death, different views on money, and cultural differences from one generation to another. It’s often enough to put advisors in a rare reactive mode instead of proactively having these conversations with their clients. Even with these difficulties, though, it's important for your clients to face these issues head-on, and you may be the ideal conduit to getting the conversation started.


A 3-step approach:

1. Ask questions:

Find out what your clients desire to do with their wealth — for themselves, for their children, and for any charitable causes.

Gain an understanding of their attitudes toward their children. Do they feel their children are ready and capable of dealing with the wealth conversation, or do they need more time? What would need to change to create the opportunity to discuss or even to implement the parents’ wealth plan?

Once a plan is established, ask permission to reach out to children and begin to bring them into the discussion.

2. Promote communication and help implement a plan

Add value by helping facilitate some or all of the following:

  • Modeling income, gifting, and wealth-transfer scenarios
  • Estate planning
  • Trust strategies
  • Wills
  • Power of attorney
  • Family education


3. Bring in the heirs

Trust is a big factor in the process of developing relationships with your clients' children. Yet, the road to trust is a slow and steady one. Is it possible to truly trust someone you’ve never met? Or someone you think might not have your best interests at heart?

Among the strategies you can use to connect with clients’ children, consider face-to-face investment educational meetings or opening up accounts with heirs early on to instill the importance of good savings and investment habits.

After you've met them, another great way to build on your relationship with a client’s heirs is to connect on LinkedIn. Think along the lines of bridging the cultural differences between generations and creating an opportunity to get to know them and their network better, and then to stay in touch systematically over a period of time.


Tips for connecting through social media

LinkedIn can be the ideal social networking site for staying connected with your clients’ children — it’s professional and allows you to highlight the value that you bring to the table, but still maintains a “social” feel.

You never know what you’ll learn when you connect with your clients’ successors — look for similarities and facts that can help you get to know them better.

Once you’ve connected, you can focus on one of the things you do best as a financial advisor: build the relationship. One way to bridge an emotional gap is by getting to know the perspective from the other side. If you get a bit more involved in the children’s lives, and are able to see things from their point of view, the process of building the relationship may gradually become easier.

And as you slowly establish trust, with time you may no longer be seen as “my parents’ financial advisor,” but as a valued resource.



FINRA regulates the use of social media. Advisors should consult their compliance departments about restrictions regarding the use of social media before accessing any social media networks for a business purpose.

This content is for informational purposes only and is not an endorsement of any content on LinkedIn, or any app, service, or publicly traded company. It is also not a recommendation to buy or sell a particular security.

All third-party marks cited are the property of their respective owners.

Any Macquarie Group entity or fund noted on this page is not an authorized deposit-taking institution for the purposes of the Banking Act 1959 (Commonwealth of Australia) and that entity's obligations do not represent deposits or other liabilities of Macquarie Bank Limited ABN 46 008 583 542 (MBL). MBL does not guarantee or otherwise provide assurance in respect of the obligations of that entity, unless noted otherwise.

Delaware Investments, a member of Macquarie Group, refers to Delaware Management Holdings, Inc. and its subsidiaries, including the Funds' distributor, Delaware Distributors, L.P. Macquarie Group refers to Macquarie Group Limited and its subsidiaries and affiliates worldwide.

© 2014 Delaware Management Holdings, Inc.


Jeff Lamb is regional director of Delaware Investments

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