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Guess who's coming to dinner?

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A family dinner table can sometimes feel more like a corporate boardroom, with a pair of CEOs and their future CEOs all coming together around the Thanksgiving feast. When we invest ourselves in our clients and engage in their lives, there may even be a seat reserved for the family’s trusted financial advisor at the table.

Having a seat at the family table is an important step in client relationships – maybe not for Thanksgiving dinner, but for the important family discussions that are often made around the very same table.

In an earlier column we talked about the need for financial advisors to be equally vested in the two family CEOs – the chief executive officer and the chief emotional officer. The chief executive officer handles the finances while the chief emotional officer helps the family meet its emotional needs.

If we look one more step into the future, we see children taking the family CEO roles from their parents, thus making the next generation an integral part of the financial planning process.

Seniors have a natural desire to want their adult children involved in decision-making, but it is important to note that the generation gap between parent and child can present a challenge.

Many families find the needs and future plans of one generation do not match those of the other. The different generations have a lot that sets them apart, but if you take the time to understand the family story behind their money and how they think and feel, parent and child may find there are common ties and issues that you can help them bring together.

As adult children become more involved in their parents’ financial decisions, it is important to factor in that children are often less equipped to understand – let alone give sound support – to the decisions being made. In addition, there is often one child who the parents and other siblings turn to for these decisions, thereby creating several layers of pressure on him to make the right decision for mom, dad and the entire family.

It is with these particulars in mind that parents must consider the value a trusted financial advisor can have in these conversations to help the family bridge the generation gap and relieve the pressure in making informed and educated decisions.

Financial advisors must recognize not only the need, but also the opportunity in these situations. If you begin to work with your senior clients and their children now, you will start setting your place at the family table.

Building your place at the family table solidifies your relationship with the current family CEOs as well as the next generation of family leadership, all of whom will need the products and services you offer at some point in the near future.


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