Addressing Intergenerational Communication

Journal of Financial Planning: March 2021

What would it be like to sit down with three generations of the same family and talk about money?

Probably a little awkward, given that many people would rather talk about sex, race, and politics than money, according to an article in The Atlantic. The Spectrem Group found in a study that only 17 percent of people who make more than $100,000 annually planned to discuss their income or net worth with their children.

But the great wealth transfer we’ve been hearing so much about is coming. And the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated those intergenerational conversations about money and estate planning (due to the year-long looming threat of infection and death) for some families. Are your clients among them and are you part of those conversations?

“While it might be awkward at first to broach the subject of family matters, advisers are doing their clients a disservice by avoiding the topic,” writes Ben Rizzuto in the Investopedia article “Advisors Need to Bring Clients’ Kids into the Conversation.”

But how do you even go about connecting with the next generation?

The family meeting. The first step is to host a family meeting where you can discuss shared goals and your clients can bestow upon their children their plans to transfer their wealth, writes Roger Wohlner in article “Why Advisers Should Communicate with Clients’ Adult Children.”

Connect them with younger planners. Financial Advisor IQ reports in the article “Proven Strategies for Winning Over Your Clients’ Kids (And Some Things You Really Shouldn’t Do)” that deploying the younger advisers on staff to work with your clients’ kids is one strategy. They have unique needs and might better connect with a peer.

Provide targeted information. Financial Advisor IQ reports that providing services that are targeted and personalized for those younger generations is another way to connect with them.

Investopedia further explains that developing resources on student loans, negotiation tips, and budgeting are ideas to include in a packet of information for younger clients. In these resources, position yourself as the expert resource, Wohlner writes in article.

“It’s vital to foster a relationship with your clients’ children,” writes Rizzuto in Investopedia. “Not only are your existing clients—the parents—concerned about these topics, but their children will also be the main recipients of their wealth in the future.”

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