Interview with Investment Executive- Get to know your clients' heirs

Get to know your clients' heirs
By Fiona Collie | February 09, 2012

Building relationships with your clients' families is key to retaining assets and building your book.

Introducing yourself to your clients' children is an important part of building your business as an advisor, says Rosemary Smyth, owner and coach of Rosemary Smyth and Associates Inc. in Victoria, which specializes in coaching financial advisors. It is a way of getting referrals and positioning yourself as an expert.

Smyth offers this advice to help you start building relationships with your clients' children or heirs:

Don't rush in

Never approach a client's child without getting permission from the client, Smyth says. Any decisions to contact family members should be discussed with the client well in advance.

Remember that every family is different, she says. Your clients may be in blended families, for example, that include stepsiblings, and you should know about these issues before asking for introductions. Find out as much as you can about your client's family before arranging to make contact.

Suggest a family meeting

A good time to broach the topic of a family introduction, Smyth says, is during a discussion about your client's estate plan.

Ask your client if he or she would like to hold a family meeting, with you present, as part of the estate-planning process, she says. A large meeting can help inform all family members about your client's estate-planning goals and give you an opportunity to get to know the next generation.

Become the go-to person

Position yourself as an expert and a resource in the minds of your clients' children to help build trust with them.

Structure your family estate-planning meeting as an information session. Explain all the components of the plan and how they will affect the heirs — instead of simply running through the facts.

As well, offer to be a referral source for all family members, Smyth says. That could include referrals of friends and colleagues looking for other professionals, such as a mortgage broker or a lawyer.

Extend an invitation

Make family members a part of your lead-generation process.

Welcome your clients' children to client events and seminars, Smyth says. And ask if they would like to receive your newsletter.

Communicate on their terms

Show this younger generation of prospects that you can relate to them on their terms, Smyth says. Find out their preferred method of communication.

They may prefer links to videos and online articles rather than a traditional brochure or printed newsletter.

Remember to ask how the prospects would like to be contacted, she says, whether it's by landline, cellphone, email or social media.

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© 2009 Rosemary Smyth & Associates