By Jim Silbernagel
Family meetings are powerful opportunities to solidify clients’ wishes, establish peace of mind and meet potential prospects in their adult children. Clients, however, don’t always think about the benefits that rounding up all their family members for the meeting can bring. By effectively communicating the value of these group meetings, you can make client’s intentions become a reality while opening the door to future growth for yourself.
Communicate The Importance
Family meetings can be hard to schedule, so we must remind clients that open, in-person conversations about family finances ensure adult children understand their parent’s financial wishes and are equipped to keep hard-earned wealth in the family. These meetings can also prevent difficult situations after parents pass away, such as family assets landing in probate due to disagreements over the deceased’s intentions.
Clients who agree to family meetings may not make them mandatory for their adult children. Use this as an opportunity to share an agenda for the meeting – once the kids learn the meeting will cover topics like their inheritance, they’re more inclined to attend. In-laws can complicate matters and lead to less productive conversations, so ask clients to limit the initial meeting to their own children. When scheduling conflicts like distance or work crop up, frame the gathering as having the same importance as a doctor’s appointment – if someone can find time for a check-up, they can attend a meeting to discuss finances.
Use Time Effectively
Well-developed agendas are crucial tools for any family meeting, allowing you to stay in control, cover all necessary topics and enforce any boundaries your clients may request. Agenda items should include thorough conversations on estate planning, insurance policies and any applicable veterans’ benefits, keeping in mind that clients’ children may have never seen these documents before. After these overarching priorities, discuss areas tailored to individual clients, such as real estate, alternative or luxury investments and philanthropy.
In all family meetings, honesty and transparency are the best policies for dispelling notions of favoritism an keeping the meeting on track. You must, therefore, be ready to navigate awkward dynamics and feelings of discomfort that must be addressed and overcome. I also ask clients to limit the initial meeting to their own children, as in-laws can complicate matters and lead to a less productive conversation.
Put Yourself Forward
With everyone gathered together, seize the opportunity to show genuine care for your clients and prove your value to their children. Start the meeting on a positive note by sincerely thanking everyone for taking the time to attend despite busy schedules. Speak to the kids, recognize their parents’ hard work and let them know that you want to help provide both them and their parents with financial stability.
Encourage continued conversations following the meeting by giving your clients and their children resources to take with them. You can give clients a journal where they can store their essential financial information, so their kids have easy access whenever it’s needed. Include your information on the front cover so, when the time comes, you become the go-to financial contact for the kids. To top this off, end the meeting by saying you want to apply for the job of being the kids’ financial advisor – this is subtle enough to prevent awkwardness and is quite effective.
Scheduling these family meetings and running them well will set you up for more opportunities, while providing security for those already in your care.
James J. Silbernagel, CFP, LUTCF, is the president and owner of Silbernagel Group Insurance Services, LLC. James also hosts the Real Wealth podcast and is a 25-year MDRT member with 15 Top of Table qualifications. He resides with his family in Campbellsport, Wisconsin.