By now, many advisors are familiar with the survey conducted by the Allianz Group where they asked Baby Boomers and their parents to rank their priorities when it comes to passing down an inheritance.
You can see in the chart below that family history and life lessons topped the list, as being far more important than passing down financial assets.
Remarkably, as important as leaving a legacy is to these generations, very few have made provisions to add a values component to their will or estate plan. This enormous vacuum opens a window of opportunity for professional advisors to fill an emotional void that can attract, convert and retain affluent clients.
Starting the Legacy Conversation
Initiating a basic legacy conversation, advisors can differentiate themselves by showing they care as much about their clients’ heartstrings as their purse strings.
There is an old adage in the world of sales and marketing, “Facts tell but stories sell.” At your next client meeting, instead of starting with questions about the client’s money, ask about how they came to accumulate their wealth; the struggles, risks, setbacks and successes. Their reaction will prove out the adage.
Winning the “Heart of the Family”
Establishing a relationship that is rooted in a client’s values can have a profound impact. My business partner, Dennis Stack, can attest.
Dennis lost his father before his daughter, an only child was born, and his mother succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease two years later. As is the case with so many families, his parents rarely talked about their past and Dennis never bothered to ask.
Only after they were gone did he realize the scope of his loss. However, his real regret was the realization that his daughter would never know her grandparents, how they lived and loved, learned their values, traditions and life lessons.
This personal revelation opened Dennis’ eyes. His career spanned nearly 20 years, starting as a Financial Advisor for E.F. Hutton and ending as Sr. VP & Branch Manager for UBS/PaineWebber. The loss of his mother and the subsequent regret led to an epiphany: while he was doing a good job preserving his clients’ valuables, he wasn’t doing anything to help preserve their values.
Like most advisors, he would typically send gifts to his top clients during holidays or special occasions. The year he had his epiphany, he instead created a booklet with a list of legacy questions, and packaged it with an audiocassette recorder and three blank tapes. His greeting card simply asked that when their family gathers, they “take time to save something worth more than money.”
Dennis usually got “thank you” notes when sending his holiday gift but that year would be profoundly different. Every client to whom he had sent his package took the time to pick up the phone and call him personally. Each and every one of them!
“It was as if they all agreed to say the same thing because their comments were nearly identical,” Dennis told me:
“I have never received a more thoughtful gift in my life,” One client said. “My entire family thanks you.” “We will never forget this,” were common responses.
If ever the phrase, “it’s the thought that counts” hit home, this was it. Even if they never recorded a single life story, their perception of Dennis had elevated him to rock star status, something most advisors couldn’t even imagine. In one gesture, he cemented his best clients’ loyalty and made it nearly impossible for competitors to lure them away.
In the months that followed, when he asked for a meeting to discuss or review their financial situation, they gladly obliged. When he asked for referrals, they opened up and made personal introductions. Dennis won the “heart of the family” and completely changed the way he communicated with clients.
Creating a Gift of Legacy
With millions of Baby Boomers and their Generation X children beginning to think about their legacy and how they can make a difference after they are gone, forward-thinking advisors can seize a rare opportunity to do the same.
The Allianz study shows that Boomer clients want to pass down their legacy assets but don’t know how to go about it or even where to begin. As this trend continues to grow exponentially, so will demand. This being said, in the near future, having “legacy talks” will be expected of advisors, in my opinion. Until it becomes commonplace, this simple relationship strategy can be a significant differentiator and one of the best ways to convert more prospects into clients while keeping them in the fold much longer.
Creating an Impactful Legacy Talk
Over the past decade, my team has trained over 5,000 hospice volunteers on how to record legacy talks when legacy matters most. To conduct a quick and impactful legacy talk, use a simple voice recorder (no video) or your mobile device, and ask these five questions:
- What did your grandparents do for a living? Like Dennis’ parents, most people are reluctant to talk about themselves. Sharing what they know about departed loved ones is a perfect icebreaker.
- Where or how did you find your faith? If not driven by faith, the answer will still be valuable to future generations.
- What’s your secret to raising a successful family? Assuming they have children, this answer is a “must have” in a legacy portfolio.
- Who or what inspired your career path? This question reveals the foundation of their success.
- What life lesson stands out that you want to leave in a legacy? Give one of your own as an example to trigger their imagination.
Tell the client you’ll be in touch to deliver their recordings soon. Transfer the recordings to a CD and put your business card or note in the jewel case. Now you have a great reason for a follow-up meeting and they will always remember you helping them give their family this valuable gift of legacy.