In a recent Gen-Savvy Financial Advisor workshop, I explained the seven-part process for working through baby boomer parents to get introductions to their adult children. The process takes clients down Memory Lane to recall how they felt about their finances when they were their children's age. This works very well in my experience, and one of the attendees said this is the process his firm has used successfully for years.
With that ego-inflating, unsolicited testimonial fresh in my mind, I offer the step-by-step model below. This model assumes the clients are a husband and wife:
Step 1: Begin a “remember when” conversation with your clients. Take them back to your earliest interactions with them and ask how they felt at that time about their finances and retirement prospects.
Step 2: Mix questions that evoke both facts and feelings. For example: What was your financial situation then? — Fact. How did you feel about it? — Feeling. What were your hopes then? — Feeling. At that time, were they achievable? — Fact. This helps people relive these memories, not simply recall them.
Step 3: Again using questions that evoke facts and feelings, ask about their children's financial future: What do you think of it? How do you feel they’ll do? Do you consider your children financially literate? Do you think they have a disciplined approach to saving money?
Step 4: Ask them to imagine how nice it’d be if their children didn't have to go through the same financial worries and uncertainties they endured when they were younger. Tell them you’d like to help their offspring start off correctly with sound financial decisions and that, beyond any sort of inheritance, the best thing they can learn is how to think about money. Note that those worries and fears can be avoided and, with the parents’ blessing, you’d like to offer your help. List the free services you offer select clients’ children.
Step 5: Make contact with the children by sending an email to the parents, and asking that they forward it to the children. In the email, thank the parents for being loyal clients and share how rewarding it has been for you to see their success and hear how the children have grown and succeeded. Then briefly recap the conversation in Step 4 and reiterate the free services you offer select clients’ children. Say you’ll reach out to the children individually in the coming days via the email address the parents have provided.
Step 6: Email each of the children directly. Instead of giving a bio, introduce yourself by focusing on how you help your clients achieve the future they want for themselves. Mention a few things you know about them — college, sports, jobs, etc. — but not so much that you seem like a stalker. List the free services you provide and ideas on how these services might be helpful. For example, you have a simple risk tolerance test and can help guide their 401(k) selections. Ask how they prefer to be contacted. If there is no reply, try again in one week. If you still get no reply, send one more message two weeks later saying if they’re ever in need, you’re available to help and then stop contacting them directly. Keeping them on a mailing list for newsletters is fine, but no more direct contact. Move on.
Step 7: Should they reply affirmatively to your email, schedule a meeting or set up a phone call. If you have a protégé you’re training, bring him or her with you. After pleasantries are exchanged, begin the meat of the conversation with this question: “So, what do I need to know about you?” Avoid the temptation to fill the silence or finish their sentences or correct them in any way. Let them talk. Take mental notes as well as jotting things down on your legal pad. Don't hand them a new-client form to begin filling out. Go over your free services and also list the services for which you charge clients. Share how you earn your money “just so they know.”
From this point forward, treat them as a Tier II client. As their needs grow and get more complicated, they’ll remember you. Invite them to any firm events that may appeal to them. Let the parents know that you’ve met with them and that you’ll help with simple things as needed.
The workshop attendee whose firm uses this process said all the hubbub about next-gen clients not using their parents’ advisors was lost on him — they’ve never had trouble retaining clients’ children. Try it and you should see the same kind of success.
--- Read Thinking Millennial: How to Woo the Largest Generation on ThinkAdvisor.