Developing Your Communications Plan For Wealth Transfer Clients: Part One

Scott Tangney Makovsky + Company Executive Vice President 10 August 2011

Developing Your Communications Plan For Wealth Transfer Clients: Part One

Here, the financial public relations firm Makovsky + Co discusses best communications practices for reaching out to the next generation of clients.

Editor’s Note: Below is a commentary provided by Makovsky+ Co, the financial public relations firm headquartered in New York City, on best communications practices for reaching out to the next generation of clients, as taken from their Strategies series of articles.

It’s been estimated that in forty years a staggering $40 trillion (yes, trillion) in wealth will pass from one generation to the next. While this represents the largest wealth transfer in America’s history, fortunes of a different nature will also be in play: the fate of all wealth managers and financial advisors.

No advisor can stay with the status quo. Those who resist change will ultimately be buffeted by change as destructive as a Category 5 hurricane. But for those who are prepared to respond, wealth transfer represents a springboard to a better and brighter future.

For many advisors, the greatest challenge facing their largest clients (typically individuals in their 60s, 70s and older) is ensuring the smooth and efficient transfer of assets to their heirs. This is rarely a matter exclusively of estate planning technicalities. Transferring wealth to a second generation often stirs powerful emotions. Some of these are client-specific: the loss of financial independence, the fear of death and concerns about privacy. But others involve the conflicts and misunderstandings related to long-standing family dynamics – issues that the discussion of money is sure to resurrect.

Helping clients meet these complicated goals is a basic requirement for timely counsel and personalized service. And wealth managers must position themselves to connect with the new generation of wealthy – and retain assets under management to ensure the longevity of their own business.

Studies show that many advisors are failing to make this connection. The Institute for Preparing Heirs found that 90 per cent of heirs reject their parental advisors soon after receiving their inheritances. That statistic is gaining attention, given that Baby Boomers stand to inherit $8.4 trillion alone, of which $2.4 trillion has already been transferred. The reason, typically, is that heirs don’t know their parents’ advisors and aren’t engaged in the wealth transfer planning process.

Getting the message out

The message is clear: To take advantage of this great migration, advisors need to develop integrated communications programs around wealth transfer directed at three distinct groups. These are: clients who will transfer the wealth, heirs to current clients, and potential clients who are heirs of wealth transfers. Furthermore, the communications program must be designed to promote expertise in facilitating wealth transfer as well as advising the recipient of a wealth transfer on managing assets in an efficient manner.

Components of such a program include:

1) A micro-website linked to an advisor’s main website totally dedicated to wealth transfer and top issues associated with it. Informational videos and interviews posted on this micro-website are easy ways to attract and educate target investors.

2) Direct marketing campaigns with physical and digital communications to clients, specifically targeting the demographics most involved with wealth transfer.

3) Marketing collateral for clients and their heirs, including brochures and guides with steps to take when considering wealth transfer and how to start the process and a dialogue with family members.

4) A media relations campaign where an expert from the financial advisory is quoted in key national and local market media outlets on wealth transfer matters to raise visibility and awareness. Personal finance and lifestyle media that reach HNW investors are important. Case studies are also very useful in illustrating how a financial advisor can be portrayed as a quarterback in the wealth transfer process.

5) A survey of families that went through the wealth transfer process and the most important lessons learned. This content will fuel an integrated program and get at the heart of the most important issues affecting clients.

6) Other communications initiatives such as webinars, luncheons or dinners with guest keynote speakers can help establish credibility and thought leadership in the wealth transfer arena.

In the next part of this feature, to be published tomorrow, the ways of addressing each client type are explored.


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