Advisor and client (Image: Shutterstock)

High-net-worth clients and prospects are not a monolithic group, but they do face many of the same challenges when it comes to wealth management and planning. Fortunately, there are technologies available to you that can help them meet those challenges, while also positioning you as a trusted individual and potential advisor for their eventual heirs.

Client Concerns and Inertia Represent Opportunity for Advisors

High- and ultra-high-net-worth clients often have legitimate concerns about how large inheritances might affect their offspring. Couple those concerns with situations like Aretha Franklin’s recent passing without having left a will (per her lawyer, “She understood the need. It just didn’t seem to be something she got around to”), and it becomes clear you may have an opportunity to help your older clients and their heirs address uneasiness about the coming wealth transfer. Doing so may also help you accomplish two other business-building goals: increasing the trust level you have with your existing clients while also getting to know their heirs in an environment where they too can come to see you as a trusted advisor.

5 Topics to Increase HNW Client Engagement

In the 2018 U.S. Trust Insights On Wealth and Worth study, which surveyed nearly 900 respondents with $3 million or more in investable assets, there were five topics that these HNW individuals wanted to discuss more with their advisors:

  1. Estate planning (48%)
  2. Trust options and implications (35%)
  3. Strategic philanthropy (16%)
  4. Facilitating discussions about the use of family wealth (20%)
  5. Teaching children/heirs financial skills (21%)

The percentages listed above after each of these topics don’t represent those that want to talk more with their advisors about these, but rather those who actually are. In other words, though these are the topics HNW individuals believe they need to be discussing more with their advisors, less than 50% of them are talking about even the highest rated topic returned in the survey.

Each of these topics is directly related to how they’d like to see their wealth managed after they are gone. If you can bridge this gap between what HNW clients want to talk about and the conversations you are actually having with them, you can bolster your position as an advisor who understands their needs, and likely garner new referrals with the same ones.

Use Technology to Bridge the Communication Gap

Considering HNW clients indicated estate planning was the most important topic they’d like to talk to their advisor more about, it may be a service you need to offer. It’s likely you’ll be working in tandem with your clients’ attorneys for those aspects of estate planning requiring legal services, but you shouldn’t forfeit the opportunity to participate in this area of your HNW clients’ planning experience simply because you can’t handle the entire process. Estate planning technology can help you facilitate both the conversation and the process with your HNW clients while also serving as a differentiator from your competitors.

The estate planning process offers multiple inroads for bringing in the children and grandchildren of your HNW clients, particularly as you try to address topics four and five above. In order to address these issues in a timely manner, you should use your CRM to track all your clients’ family information. This will allow you to segment those clients with potential heirs to follow up accordingly. Further, you can use the CRM for segmentation of the potential heirs themselves, and then include them on any relevant financial education emails you send.

You should also consider additional tools for attracting and building relationships with these young, future HNW prospects. They are not their parents (or grandparents). They are much more firmly ensconced in digital channels and will likely demand their future advisor’s presence there as table stakes. To live in their world, and earn their trust, you will need to exhibit a strong and savvy social media presence, incorporate technologies to bring transparency to your process and their overall financial picture, and communicate with them in their preferred channels using the conventions (including real-time communication, where appropriate) of those channels (authenticity cannot be faked).

This Is Only a Starting Point

Once you’ve internalized that these challenges and concerns exist for this level of client and are aware of the topics about which they feel they are not getting enough input from their advisors, you can begin to consider your existing technologies to see where they might assist you with sparking this level of client communication. Additionally, this may be the time to seek out estate planning software, if you’re not already using any, and to make sure you are taking full advantage of your CRM’s capabilities for tracking family information. Also, you may want to review what your firm is doing with social media and communication to convey your ability to meet these challenges and concerns.

The important thing is to begin the conversations and keep your clients on track in terms of following through with what they know needs to be done. It serves neither your HNW clients nor their heirs should this type of planning be put off until it’s too late.


Brian McLaughlin is the CEO of Redtail Technology, a leading provider of client relationship management (CRM) solutions for financial services firms.