In this blog post I’m going to share a powerful tip I learned from one of the advisers I work with in London. He uses it in client meetings if he wants to find out more about their family members and suggest that he should meet them.
I call it the indirect approach, and if you master it you should find it helps you make the most of the opportunities created by the ongoing Great Wealth Transfer. Even if you haven’t heard that term, you’ll be familiar with the idea. Over the next thirty years, trillions of pounds will cascade down the generations.
The indirect approach in action
You’re probably familiar with the idea of using a family tree as part of the fact find. This is where you and your client draw their family tree, so you get a full picture of who’s connected to them and how your client’s planning affects them.
When my adviser friend asks his clients to draw out their family tree, he starts by asking them about their parents. He works in London, where a lot of clients are high earners in their forties and fifties, so often the parents are still going strong. Often a client will have done some VCT planning for themselves; the estate planning opportunity sits with the generation above.
The clever bit is how he asks them about his parents – and, just as important, what he doesn’t say.
Because he doesn’t blurt out “Have your parents got any money?” He knows this direct approach is asking for the shutters to go up.
Instead, he asks two indirect questions. The first is: “Might you need to help your parents in any way?”
Usually the response is that no, his client’s parents have plenty of their own money.
Which leads to the second question: “Might your parents want to help their grandchildren at all, for example with school fees or getting on the property ladder?”
Grandparents are famously doting. So almost always the client will say that yes, they may well want to help.
This creates a natural reason to speak to the client’s parents.
The same goes when discussing possible inheritance. He doesn’t ask clients if they themselves expect to receive an inheritance. That would make them feel greedy, and they’d rather not think about their parents’ mortality.
So he uses the same shift of focus to change the mood entirely:
“Might your parents want to leave something to their grandchildren?”
“I imagine so.”
“Then it’s really important I speak to them to make sure that happens as efficiently as possible.”
Again, a natural opener.
Massive accumulated wealth, massive need for advice
So how can you use this insight to grow your business?
The first step is to recognise the sheer scale of the opportunity. Especially if your client base means you can look up the generations and potentially advise your clients’ parents.
Here we have a situation where there is massive accumulated wealth combined with a massive need for advice. Because in many cases people have become wealthy almost ‘by accident’, benefitting from rising house prices without the input of a financial adviser.
And because much of that accumulated wealth is tied up in property, when it passes down to the next generation, much of it will become liquid.
That represents new, investable wealth in the hands of your clients.
It’s a huge opportunity, and one you should at the very least explore, if not grab with both hands.
These resources will help you
With over £3 billion of assets under management in our inheritance tax products, Octopus has extensive experience of working with advisers on estate planning cases.
We recognise that while these can be big cases, there’s a process each one goes through. That’s why we set up the ‘Grow your estate planning business’ hub. It lays out, step by step, the stages of an estate planning case, and gives you practical support for each one.
I suggest you start by clicking on Step 1 (naturally!) and take a look at the article called ‘10 clients to talk to about estate planning’. You may find some of your clients’ parents are in similar situations.
And whatever you do, make sure you check out the ‘Untangling inheritance tax’ guide.
We have hard copies available too, and it’s a great bit of literature to leave with a client or prospective client. It outlines their options in plain English, while avoiding any mention of specific solutions or products.
Advisers who use it regularly ask us for fresh copies to replenish their supplies, which is testament to its popularity.
If you decide you’d like some hard copies yourself – or if you have any estate planning queries we can help with – don’t hesitate to get in touch with your Octopus business development manager or call 0800 316 2067.
To explore the opportunities the Great Wealth Transfer could bring to your business, check out our estate planning hub now.
Visit the estate planning hub
 Passing on the Pounds report, Kings Court Trust, February 2017.