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Be Sensitive—Especially With Minority Families’ Cultural Differences

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Demographers speculate that at some not-too-distant point, minorities will become a majority in the U.S. This means advisors are more likely to face cultural differences that will affect the plans they create for clients.

“Some clients come from cultures where the extended family is supported financially through thick and thin,” commented psychologist and behavioral consultant Ted Klontz. “The only way some of these cultures survive is to share what they have.”

He gave the example of a wealthy client who insisted on taking all his numerous relatives out to very expensive dinners, to the point where hefty restaurant bills threatened to leave him too broke to pay for his daughter’s college education. Instead of struggling to change this deeply ingrained behavior, Klontz said, an advisor should try to understand and honor this culture and become sensitive to the client’s related needs.

“In this case,” he explained, “I worked with the financial advisor to hatch a plan for the client to open a community center. By contributing money to this center every month, he could help feed people in his hometown without having to lavishly support all his relatives. He loved the idea. His name was on the building, he was supporting his family, and in a broader fashion he was making a real difference to the entire community.”