To me, a client is never just a business transaction, a meeting on my calendar or a knowledge transfer. I feel a great responsibility to my clients who, over time, become like family.
When you consider what is entrusted to advisors — our clients’ goals, dreams, concerns, security and comfort — it’s easy to understand why trust, deference and respect are paramount to this relationship. So is going above the call of duty, which is why I continually challenge myself to do more to ensure my clients are taken care of now and in the future.
Here are a few ways financial advisors can go above and beyond for their extended family of valued clients.
1. Bring all of their advisors together
I tell my clients, “You are the CEO of your family.” Successful CEOs have a cabinet of advisors to help them make complicated decisions. Your client’s personal cabinet can include a financial planner, legal counsel, insurance agent, accountant and wealth manager.
Traditionally, these advisors work in silos. However, these experts should come together to make sure their financial counsel works in harmony — ensuring the client is taking the most effective steps to meet his or her financial goals. I would even recommend that one advisor takes the lead and chairs the cabinet to facilitate the discussion, with the client present.
2. Designate beneficiaries
Many clients go through the sometimes cumbersome and overwhelming processes of financial planning and wealth management, but forget to complete the process with estate planning. Estate planning is a crucial step in making sure a client can disburse their personal estate after death, while minimizing gift, estate, generation-skipping and income tax.
Remember, if your client doesn’t have a plan, the state will create one in his or her stead, and it might not accommodate your client’s wishes.
Having a plan is only the first step. Too often, we find clients fail to properly title their assets to align with the plan, but an unfunded estate plan is no plan at all. Advisors should also remind clients to designate beneficiaries on all assets, including money, insurance, valuables and retirement accounts.
Estate plans can quickly become out of date. Periodically review a client’s estate plan to incorporate life changes. (Photo: iStock)
3. Revisit estate plans