With robo-advisors now so easily available, client retention can be a battle. If you want to stay relevant, build long-term relationships and provide value that clients can’t find elsewhere, think about the three most important things to every client. It’s usually their health, wealth and kids. Take the time to create personalized resources that equip your clients to educate their children on financial best practices, and you’ll stand out from the crowd while also cultivating stronger client relationships.
(Related: 5 Strategic Approaches to Generating Leads)
Children who don’t have a firm financial foundation become adults who struggle to pay bills, budget well and invest wisely. Though many parents spend thousands of dollars to send their children to the best schools they can afford, those schools rarely teach children how to wisely budget or invest money so that responsibility must fall to the parents. While there are hundreds of available resources to help parents coach their kids financially, the sheer quantity is overwhelming, and they don’t have time to vet each source. This presents advisors with a huge opportunity to help clients educate their children on financial best practices. My clients are always pleasantly surprised and grateful that I take the time to invest in their children and help them instill financial independence.
Knowing exactly how to educate client’s children can be tricky. On one end of the spectrum, you can sit down with a client’s 11-year-old to talk about money, but that can be time-consuming and ineffective. On the other hand, you can simply pass along a book or two to your client, but that feels impersonal and isn’t giving them the tangible personal expertise you have to offer. By creating your own lesson plans to share with parents, you can remain efficient, provide a personalized touch and be top of mind whenever they use them.
Our lesson plans contain tips and strategies on ways to teach your children financial best practices with simple financial themes such as saving, spending, donating and investing. Customize your lesson plans according to age for the most impact, such as pre-school, elementary, etc. since a 6-year-old saves much differently than a 16-year-old. For example, in our lesson plan for a 6-year-old, we encourage parents to start teaching their child how to save by buying them a piggy bank. In our high school lesson plan, the guidance is for parents to help their teenager set up a savings account at their local bank.
Take some time to compile your own helpful tips and tricks, and explore some great external resources, like John Lanza’s “The Art of Allowance” or Jolene Godfrey’s “Raising Financially Fit Kids.” One of my favorite tips to include in our lesson plans helps parents teach children about their impact on household bills. For example, anytime your children are energy-efficient and save money on the electric bill, let them keep that difference. One of our clients found that after he implemented this rule in his house, his electric bill plummeted $30! Not only does this teach children the value of the dollar, it also encourages them to take ownership in the household.
We’ve found the best way to broach the conversation of children’s financial education is in an annual review. Ask your client what grades their children are entering next year, then mail them customized lesson plans after the review. Or, if you know your client’s child has an upcoming birthday, email them something along the lines of, “We know your son is turning 12 next week, and that’s the perfect time to start an allowance. Here are a few tips we’ve compiled on the best way to introduce good allowance habits.”
If you can proactively provide a much-needed service to your client that helps them improve their children’s lives, you’ll deepen the relationship while also setting yourself apart from any other advisor. In fact, many of our clients share our lesson plans with their friends, and we’ve had quite a few new prospects originate from those referrals. With just a little extra effort, you can bolster your retention rate, gain new clients and set a future generation up for financial success.
Tom Henske is a partner at Lenox Advisors, Inc. a wholly owned subsidiary of National Financial Partners; the author of “From Me to We”; the founder of the Money-Smart Kids program; and a Life and Qualifying member of MDRT.