The ‘Best Advisors’ Serve Families, Not Individuals: OppenheimerFunds

The mutual fund company is holding workshops throughout the US to help advisors learn how to retain generations of wealthy families as clients

The “best advisors” are changing their business practices, migrating from serving a single individual client or couple to serving multiple members of the same family, says Ned Dane, head of the private client group at OppeneimerFunds.

With that in mind, Oppenheimer has partnered with Legacy Capitals, a provider of advice and education to wealthy families and their advisors, to offer a series of workshops for financial advisors who serve high-net-worth and ultra-high net worth clients to help them make that change.

(Related on ThinkAdvisor: What HNWs Want That Advisors Aren't Doing)

“Being a successful advisor to high-net-worth families requires engaging and advising the entire family, including spouses, children and grandchildren,” said Dane in a press release. “Advisors must adjust their approach from one-to-one to one-to family if they want to help their clients achieve the financial legacy they desire.”

That approach can help them retain clients when wealth changes hands from one generation to the next and from one spouse to another following a death or impairment.

“When wealth changes hands, many advisors can lose business if they don’t have a good relationship with those family members who inherit the money,” Dane tells ThinkAdvisor. “If you don’t know other member of a family there are pretty high odds you’re not going to work with them when a client dies.”

(Related on ThinkAdvisor: Wealthy Women Are More ‘Advisor Oriented’ Than Men)

Numerous studies show that widows often drop advisors if they feel the primary relationship was with the deceased spouse and that many millennials, who will eventually inherit some or all of their parents’ wealth, have a very different approach to money management than their parents.

(Related on ThinkAdvisor: Millennials Want to Make Wise, but Different, Money Decisions)

The OppenheimerFunds workshops are open to advisors working in RIAs and broker-dealers and to private bankers and are being held in major cities throughout the country, including New York City, Miami, Baltimore, Houston and San Francisco, says Dane. Attendance is limited to a maximum 35 advisors.

Dane describes the workshops as advisors “preparing families for their assets” rather than “preparing the assets for their families, which is the traditional approach of many advisors.

He went through the workshop training with his wife and described it as a “great process of discovery” that goes well beyond financial issues to “wherever a family takes it.”

The workshops include play-acting with other advisors substituting for clients and playing cards with value statements to help advisors discover what’s important to client families. “Everyone in a family might have a different set of priorities,” says Dane. The workshop teaches advisors how to bring those differences together “to create a comprehensive family history” while leading a family meeting.

Dane notes these exercises are not for every client family so advisors need to consider which families are good candidates for the process.

It could really pay off. "Advisors who invest the time to have these types of discussions could become the most important advisor to a wealthy family,” says Dane.

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