As a wealth advisor your goal is to be your clients’ most trusted advisor – the person your clients turns to, to assist them.
The 2014 Canadian survey on The Philanthropic Conversation: Understanding Financial Advisors’ Approaches and High Net Worth Individuals’ Perspectives commissioned by Canadian Association of Gift Planners, BMO Harris Private Banking, GIV3 and PFC of financial advisors and high net worth individuals reveals that high net worth individuals value conversations about philanthropy with their advisors and also believe that these conversations can enhance their relationship with their advisor.
The study also reveals an astounding gap: although 91% of advisors think they are raising philanthropy with clients only 13% of clients report that their advisors are having these conversations with them. Additionally, only 36% of clients who recall these conversations felt that they were meaningful. Furthermore, 40% of clients indicated that they would be comfortable with their advisors raising philanthropy at any point in their relationship – even at the outset.
Currently, discussions between advisors and clients have tended to be focused on technical issues, but clients want to talk about their goals and their passions. They also want to talk about how to involve their spouse, children and grandchildren in their philanthropy. Establishing relationships with your client’s family through philanthropy is particularly important since studies show that when a client passes away, 80% of advisors lose the spouse and lose the next generation to other advisors.
Not having an effective conversation is clearly a missed opportunity. The 2013 US Trust Study of the Philanthropic Conversation: Understanding advisor approaches and client expectations (conducted in partnership with The Philanthropic Initiative), revealed that advisors who do engage in these conversations find that they are good for business. In fact 74% of advisors described the following benefits:
- Deepens relationships (75%) and establishes new relationships (54%)
- Builds relationships with members of the client’s extended family (56%)
- Presents a comprehensive and holistic approach to managing client’s wealth (24%)
- Demonstrates greater interest in their clients’ charitable goals (18%) and shows the advisor is interested in more than just their clients’ money (13%)
- Provides insights that help them better serve their clients (13%)
Moreover, that study confirmed that 40% of clients agreed that discussing philanthropy had in fact deepened their relationship with their advisor.
So how can you as an advisor become more comfortable meaningfully discussing philanthropy with your clients? An easy first step is to include in your list of client questions for initial and ongoing assessment of their needs, a question like: “Are there causes that you are supporting or that are important to you?”; or “How would you like to make a difference in the world?” And then just listen - learn more about what is important to your clients. Some clients may benefit from guidance on a strategic and thoughtful approach to their philanthropy.
As a philanthropy advisor I work with individuals and families to create and facilitate a safe and productive environment to share their values, interests and goals. Together we develop and implement a plan to make their giving meaningful, satisfying and effective. I continue to involve the primary advisor as he or she wishes.