How to keep second-generation clients

January 14, 2014 | Last updated on January 14, 2014
2 min read

Over the next decade, approximately $895 billion will change hands due to wealth transfers, according to 2013 Investor Economics data.

Read: Adapt to wealthy clients’ needs, or else

And about 1.3 million people will make these transfers—many of whom are over age 75, says Grant Shorten, director of strategic insights at Renaissance Investments.

Read: Estate planning for wealthy seniors

People in that age group will transfer about $700,000 on average, with their adult children as the main beneficiaries.

That’s going to be a problem for advisors, adds Shorten, since a PwC study finds only 2% of adult children intend to keep their inheritance money with their parents’ advisors.

Read: Don’t delay planning

That’s because many advisors fail to develop relationships with clients’ adult children and grandchildren. Instead, they focus on only one parent.

Read: Tackle cross-generational planning

Make deeper connections

To ensure family members continue to work with advisors after parents pass away, “set up introductions to the beneficiaries of money,” says Shorten. To achieve this, he uses an asset gathering strategy based on six steps.

  • Make a list of your older clients and those discussing estate planning. Then figure out who might be open to involving family members in wealth-transfer meetings. The best candidates are wealthy, aging investors.
  • Walk these clients through a standard estate-planning checklist that asks, for example, about wills and safety deposit boxes.
  • If people don’t have wills, offer guidance and refer experts who can help, such as lawyers.
  • Establish whom clients would like to appoint as their executors. Read: Being a good executor
  • Host meetings for the whole family to attend, and encourage clients to bring any family members or friends named in the will.
  • Make connections with family members at these meetings. To leave a lasting impression, address emotional needs upfront. Also, show your value by using examples and visual tools to simplify complex theories and strategies.

It’s important to “[end] meetings by positioning yourself as the family advisor,” says Shorten. “Showcase the benefits of family consolidation [to put yourself] in a strong position to assist the entire family.”


When talking to adult children, for example, explain how much you value your relationship with their parents. Also, ask all attendees for the opportunity to show them how you can help financially.

If you’re proactive, you’ll secure existing assets and gather new business, notes Shorten.


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