This is the final article in a four-part series based on Dean Connor’s Money in Motion article.

I’d like to share a story with you about a middle-aged professional I know. I believe his story will resonate, since discussions with family members about money and estates can be awkward.

Dave is a successful director in the financial services industry. He receives competitive compensation for his work, which helps him meet life’s challenges of taking care of his young son, paying down his mortgage and saving for retirement. For many advisors, he would be an ideal prospect. Dave’s mother has a long-time relationship with an advisor, who has never asked him if he needs any financial advice or even introduced himself to Dave.

Does this situation sound familiar? Evidence shows his scenario is not unique and often leads to missed business opportunities:

  • 65% of clients’ children have never met their parents’ advisor.1
  • 49% of children who inherit wealth leave their parents’ advisor.2

For boomers and their children, how to manage inheritances is a high priority now and will be even more important over the next 20 years. They need strategies; for example, naming beneficiaries, moving non-registered assets to registered, tax-sheltered accounts, purchasing life insurance to cover mortgages and the tax liability for properties, establishing trusts, and creating wills and estate plans.

A tough conversation now; a tougher conversation later

Many of your clients may be avoiding wealth transfer and legacy conversations. In fact, almost 7 out of 10 clients (69%) say they haven’t discussed — or they aren’t sure if they’ve discussed — family wealth management with their advisors.3 Families are often uncomfortable talking about money with each other, so typically, they don’t.

When family members do have wealth management conversations with advisors, it’s a positive experience, with almost all (94%) saying the discussion was helpful.3

Above all, boomers need to accept their mortality and have that often difficult conversation with those they’ll leave behind. Research tells us that:

  • 70% of wealth transfers fail;
  • a staggering 60% of wealth transfers that fail do so because of a breakdown in trust and communication;
  • an additional 25% fail because heirs aren’t prepared for the unexpected reality of an inheritance.4

Talking with clients about their legacy wishes is a foundational step in starting the conversation. It’s about learning what’s important to them. Understanding how they want to be remembered. Recognizing how loved ones fit into their legacy plan. And knowing who the people who matter most to them are and connecting with them.

By helping your clients start estate and wealth transfer conversations with their children, you can strengthen current relationships, build new ones, and remove some financial uncertainty, so the experience of dealing with a death in the family is less financially stressful during that difficult time.

If clients don’t face their inevitable mortality and acknowledge that their loved ones’ lives will go on, probate or unnecessary taxes can lead to a much smaller legacy — and a more difficult one all around to transfer.

Ensuring that families remain whole and harmonious after parents pass away will help you earn the respected position of the trusted family wealth advisor.

Don’t put off to tomorrow what you could do today

Life is filled with uncertainties, but not knowing your clients’ wishes and heirs doesn’t need to be one of them. Start establishing rapport with your clients’ children, developing new relationships, and reinforcing the value of your holistic financial advice today.

It’s a responsible conversation. And one worth having.

Estimates of intergenerational wealth transfers vary, but one projection indicates $895 billion in wealth will transfer to heirs in Canada within the next 10 years.5 From a bottom-line point of view, gaining adult children as clients could ultimately result in keeping significant assets within your business.

Recent articles on the Retirement Resource Centre from Sun Life Financial’s executives cover trusted advice for Canadians, retirement planning for baby boomers, and helping women plan for their future as life expectancies increase:

If you want to learn more about Sun Life Financial’s wealth and estate planning initiatives and resources, please talk with, or send an email to, your Sun Life Sales Director.

You might also like…

1 MFS Investing Sentiment Survey, (US), April 2013.

2 Navigating to tomorrow: Serving clients and creating value. PwC, Global Private Banking and Wealth Management Report, June 2013.

3 MFS Investing Sentiment Survey, (US) April 2013.

4 Vic Preisser and Roy Williams, “The Future of Estate Planning,” Trusts and Estates, June 2010.

5 Investor Economics, Household Balance Sheet Report, 2013; projects CDN$895 billion will transfer by 2023.

Rocco Taglioni, Senior Vice-President, Head of Distribution, Individual Insurance and Wealth, is responsible for the overall leadership of Sun Life Financial’s distribution organizations across its Retail business in Canada. His role encompasses the leadership of the distribution company, as President Sun Life Financial Distributors Inc., as well as the Insurance and Wealth wholesaling sales organizations. Through the various leadership teams he oversees the development, direction, and execution of the Distribution strategies centered on wealth management, protection, retirement, and estate and financial planning.

Since joining Sun Life in 2004, Rocco has held various executive leadership roles, including Vice-President Business Development, Group Benefits; Head of Individual Wealth Management; Senior-Vice-President, Client Solutions; and most recently Senior Vice-President, Distribution and Marketing, Individual Insurance and Wealth. Throughout his tenure at Sun Life, Rocco has led various business strategies centered on building, transforming, and evolving organizations and teams to drive higher levels of performance and success.

Rocco has 36 years of experience in strategic leadership in the insurance and investment industries. He has served on and is a member of a number of boards. Rocco is currently President and Chair, Sun Life Financial Distributors (Canada) Inc. and is a member of the Sun Life Financial Investment Services (Canada) Inc. board. He is a member of various industry associations, including Advocis, GAMA Canada, the Canadian Pension and Benefits Institute, and the Association of Canadian Pension Management.

Rocco holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from York University.