Keeping a client for life is one thing –keeping a client relationship alive into the next generation is another matter entirely.
Creating and maintaining intergenerational connections is the secret to keeping those client relationships going, and that’s what Barbara Culver taught in her session, “How to Keep a Client Longer Than Life!” Culver is president of Resonate Inc. and is one of the speakers at the 2016 NAIFA Annual Conference.
Culver cited the statistic that says 70 percent of widows will move their business to a new financial advisor after their husband’s death. She said her goal is to help advisors create a connection with both partners in a relationship so that the connection with the surviving spouse will be strong enough to keep them as a client after one half of the couple dies.
But that relationship doesn’t end there, she said.
“If there are children involved, we teach advisors how to make a connection to the next generation by creating a diminished capacity directive,” she said. The goal is to get a conversation started with clients and children to communicate the issues that are likely to arise as parents age.
“This deals with issues we all face as we get older and need advocates to help us to navigate the aging process. Our goal is to create this continuum of support, not just for the people who are aging themselveslbut for those people who will be called to be advocates for the aging person,” Culer said.
“That leads to a conversation with the next generation. We want them to be able to ask their questions ahead of time. We want them to be able to say, ‘Yes, I can do this for you Mom and Dad,’ or ‘No, I’m not sure I can do that.’ All this is discussed ahead of time so that when somebody does need to spring in to action, they are ready. Now that we have that relationship, we also are able to retain the assets even when the second person in the original couple dies.”
In addition to the advisor keeping the client’s business, the advisor also helps keep the client’s memory alive, Culver said. “Their memory stays alive, their values are respected, there is a passing along of the bedrock of what is important to them and their family.”
Families are often spread out geographically, but that physical distance is not impossible to overcome in keeping the younger generation as clients, Culver said. In her own experience, she has used Skype, webinars and other digital communication to keep in touch with scattered family members. And she is willing to travel for a face-to-face meeting if needed.
The intergenerational work that Culver teaches is part of what she calls “purposeful planning.”
“It’s having a conversation that goes beyond the balance sheet,” she said. “It expands the technical planning that we have been taught how to do. It creates a conversation to engage the client around their values and guiding life principles, creates deeper connections that lead to a bridge to the next generation.”
This requires advisors to do two things: ask the right questions of the client and ask the right questions of themselves.
“Ask the client about their relationships with money, they lessons that they have learned from having money or not having money, what feelings does money evoke in them,” she said. “And then you have to take the time to remember your own personal why. Why did you initially choose this career? Refocus on your original reasons for coming into the business or your reasons for staying in the business based on the experiences in your own career.”
Susan Rupe is managing editor for InsuranceNewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents' association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Contact her at [email protected].
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