Are you satisfied your advisors really know your clients—well enough to carry the relationship on with a spouse or the next generation? Establishing strong relationships, founded on trust, is an essential ingredient of any long term growth strategy. My blogs have talked about the thorny issue of wealth transfer in the past—it remains one of the biggest disruptors in the wealth management industry—but there is one aspect that is less frequently considered. The client you have today may not be the client you end up serving for the long term—and the switch could mean adapting to a new gender rather than a new generation.
Perhaps one of the most unforeseen and difficult factors that affects ongoing wealth management plans is when a spouse dies and the responsibility for the funds rests with their surviving partners. In most cases, this is a woman. Recent research has shown that 80 percent of widowed Canadians are female, with widow baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) outliving their spouses by 16 years. Clearly, the gender dynamic should not be underestimated.
Some firms recognize that women will lead the financial decision making about what happens to their wealth and how it then passes to their heirs after the death of a spouse. However, there are cases where advisors are unaware that a spouse has passed away, potentially missing vital opportunities to discuss the status of the financial portfolio over a period of several months. In short, firms without a strong women investor strategy may be putting assets at risk.
In my work with industry leaders across North America, I am often asked for support in defining a winning strategy. Here are three ways to make wealth transfer work:
- Build capabilities to enable family estate planning at scale: the more your advisors know about their clients and their heirs’ plans, the more they can do to proactively retain their assets.
- Establish go-to-market strategies to “catch” heirs now: matching heirs with their offerings of choice and “wowing” them is an important step towards retaining assets transferred across generations.
- Make deliberate plans to help clients navigate their inheritances: by supporting heirs during the difficult experience of a death in the family and making the process less stressful, advisors can solidify existing relationships or establish new ones
When you are thinking through the execution of your wealth management practices, bear in mind that getting to know your clients—and adapting your services for gender as well as generations— has longer term benefits. To succeed in retaining and capturing assets during the coming intergenerational wealth transfer, firms should develop end-to-end strategies rather than disconnected solutions. And, to quote the popular musical, “learning about you, day by day” helps to not only consolidate the working relationship but also, in turn, transform your business.
Interested in this topic? Then contact me, Kendra Thompson, for more.
 “Getting to know you” from The King and I, Rogers and Hammerstein