David R. Evanson
The Career Advisor, Winter, 2005
There are only two kinds of money in the world: money that is not under your control and money that is. Many financial advisors are driven by making assets migrate from the former camp into the latter.
One of the most fertile opportunities for capturing funds occurs when it’s in motion, from one generation to the next. Rollovers, distribution of life insurance proceeds and asset liquidations that occur as your clients age and ultimately die represent a natural inflection point to increase the size of your practice.
In fact, given the wealth management pact that exists between advisors and their clients, it would be more unnatural for an advisor not [italicize not] to increase their assets under management as clients pass their wealth from one generation to the next.
But this does not mean it happens automatically. To build your assets in this fashion takes purpose, and planning and a program that actively positions you as an intergenerational planner. In short, according to financial planner Mark H. Kaizerman, founder of ___-based Mark Kaizerman & Associates, “If you want to build your practice, you’ve got to position yourself as the ‘go to guy’ for heirs and beneficiaries.”
Here’s a three step approach to accomplish this.
First, you must get the client to recognize that providing for their heirs and beneficiaries is one of their basic, most fundamental objectives with respect to personal financial planning. Your clients may not even be in touch with these feelings, but chances are these feelings exist. As an example Kaizerman says that “My father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003. After the shock wore off, the first thing he said to me was, ‘Take care of your mom,'”
Even if your clients are aware of this goal, to position yourself to play a role in the wealth transfer, you must proactively engage your client in this dialog, because chances are, says Kaizerman, they will not bring it up on their own. To do this, you might pose a question such as, “If something happens to both of you, what happens to your money? What information do your beneficiaries need? Will the kids know where all the forms are? If I am going to be the first call, we need to spend some time now thinking through the process so I can be of value to heirs.”
Next, to put this suggestion into action, Kaizerman’s suggests deploying a Trojan horse strategy. The Trojan horse in this case is Kaizerman’s book The Beneficiaries Directory. In essence, the directory is a workbook that planners and their clients complete together. According to Kaizerman, “While your will gives instructions to your executor, a directory delivers a comprehensive file of documents and information that allows your executor to carry out your wishes in the most efficient, cost-effective, and timely manner.”
If you’re in the business of providing financial planning (italicize planning) selling the idea of completing the directory should be easy. After all it’s simply an extension into the afterlife what you have been helping clients with during their living years. The process of completing with work book and perhaps gaining the role of access administrator to important documents such as marriage certificates, insurance policies, burial plot deeds, death certificates, will go a long way toward making you the go to person. “Remember,” says Kaizerman, “people have lots of advisors, accountants, lawyers, other family members. By taking these steps ahead of time, you’ve done something that makes the heirs and beneficiaries want to call you [italicize want to call you] in their moment of crisis.”
Finally, once you’ve gotten clients to recognize the need to plan on behalf of their beneficiaries, and you’ve worked with them to complete the directory, the final, and most important step is easy: meet with the beneficiaries. Obviously, this meeting is not a hard sell. The introduction to the beneficiaries from your client, and the tacit endorsement such an introduction carries, will do most of the selling. All you have to do demonstrate your earnest desire to be helpful to the beneficiaries when they ultimately need it.