The intergenerational wealth challenge

Ensuring that financial advisors continue to be of value to succeeding generations.

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I am sure that there are many CFP® professionals reading this article, and they will be divided by this topic. Those who target the older generation and, as a result, wealthier clients might see this subject as a hack. Younger advisors who are working hard in the Millennial and Gen-X space will be far more enthusiastic. This split demonstrates the demographics of the advice space; the average advisor’s age must be getting closer to 60. They are thinking that they will be retired when these younger clients come through.

Change

This is one of the hardest things all of us have to deal with socially and professionally. Currently we’re witnessing the disruption of many industries and professions and we know that ‘’those that ignore history are doomed to repeat it”.

Change is typically brought on by a new generation. As the Baby Boomers age, their children and grandchildren will be entering the advice market. Ignoring generational differences will cause your own efforts to be futile. The youth are more educated, inquisitive, well informed, tech savvy and, even at times, suspicious and not afraid to challenge and question.

What will never change?

Trust. We believe that this is the first thing that we need to understand. We believe that advice is about the ability to build trust through competence and character initially, followed by an understanding of the communication platforms on which best to engage.

The differentiator will be your ability to interact with whichever generation you are reaching out to. Finally, we think the ability to interact smoothly and efficiently electronically will continue to improve. We must go with it, but we do not think this will differentiate us.

Successful practices vs the rest

Practices that set you apart:

  • Ability to build trust
  • Ability to interact one to one
  • Wisdom

Common practices, probably legislated:

  • Good technical skills
  • Great technology, communications and admin
  • Information

You will notice that neither product nor price is mentioned. Product will continue to become less and less important as we move forward and as new product providers enter the market and probably disrupt the ability of existing product providers to hold their prices.

What advisors need to be aware of is that they must not confuse price with value. As an advisor you need to understand where your value lies. It is not in either product, reporting or administration. It is in our ability to work alongside our clients to first and foremost ensure that they can get money to work for them instead of the other way around. It is the ability to help them steer their way through the information overload and show them what all the various options ultimately will mean to them – beyond their bank balances.

How do you hold on to the next generation of your client base?

Listening. Giving the impression that you are saying to a young client “Now listen here boy” ain’t going to cut it. You need to listen to the client and treat him or her with respect. Energy levels. Speaking to a young client who has still not inherited assets can be difficult. If you feel you are unable to relate to a younger client or lack the empathy and energy to do so, you need to bring in someone who is more suited to this role. A younger advisor, someone doing their CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® certification, would help.

As an advisor you need to understand where your value lies.

Learn a different approach. See it as a challenge to understand this generation and how you can be on the cutting edge in your interactions. Go out and understand how the 22seven app works. Read Sam Beckbessinger’s Manage Your Money like a F*ckin Grownup to give you an insight into how this generation is thinking and approaching money. It also shows you the tools available out there. More importantly, this sense that you yourself are growing is empowering. That enthusiasm will be endearing to the younger generation.

Fee income. Consider charging a monthly service fee payable by debit order for the advice you give them until they grow their asset base with you.

Administration. We are witnessing how more and more product providers are moving towards electronic, paperless implementation of advice… Hallelujah! Don’t make the mistake of doing this yourself; it is not your business. Let others spend the money and the time on this, then choose the best solutions as they emerge.

Barry O’Mahony, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional and founder of Veritas Wealth Management

Family offices and family constitutions

I am aware of a trend in which wealthy families are advised to create a family constitution which spells out the values of the family as the patriarch or matriarch sees them and sets certain rules for future management of wealth.

I have a personal bias against holding adults and future generations to a particular course of action and conduct that denies them the freedom to make their own choices. I support the values of the constitution, but economically tying people together is where my issue lies. Bring them up as best you can and then set them free!

Multi-generational planning is a highly creative activity and should energise you and your team. If it doesn’t, then the end is nigh!

By Barry O’Mahony, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional and founder of Veritas Wealth Management