Why Educational Programs for Clients’ Children and Grandchildren Are Win-Win

Learning initiatives can encourage younger generations to understand basic investing concepts and build adviser-client relationships

The Wall Street Journal — View Original Article

March 9, 2017 9:30 a.m. ET

Elizabeth van Walleghem is chief executive and founder of Maximai Investment Partners in Coral Gables, Fla. Voices is an occasional feature of edited excerpts in which wealth managers address issues of interest to the advisory community. As told to Jacob Meade.

Elizabeth van Walleghem, chief executive and Founder of Maximai Investment Partners in Coral Gables, Fla. … We become more important to clients because they come to see us as a mentor and resource to their children. PHOTO: VERONICA AZPURUA

Around the time of the technology-stock bubble in the late 1990s and early 2000s, my firm started exploring ways to engage more deeply with clients. To cultivate conversation, one measure we introduced was educational seminars with clients’ children and grandchildren.

We have found the best way to run these seminars is to assemble a varied group from the practice and have each person cover a different topic. That variety tends to keep participants engaged. And while we also bring in guest speakers and discuss millennial generation trends, the seminars generally work best as a straightforward presentation of the basics of finance and investing. Learning simple concepts such as the difference between a stock and a bond can help participants in these age groups as they build a base of knowledge that will serve them later on.

Yet the impact of these seminars extends past the realm of finance education. While positioning enrollees for greater success and confidence with money as they move to adulthood, the knowledge they gain may also influence their academic or career pursuits. Some participants have gone on to become finance professionals based on their engagement with the program. As an added benefit to advisers, the programs can work as an initial step toward bringing on your own next generation of entry-level talent—at my firm we have been able to recruit several interns.

These seminars can also effect a profound change in your relationship with clients, because they illustrate how we care about more than just a standard quarterly discussion of portfolio performance. The conversation we initiate with clients’ kids and grandkids often continues after the seminar ends and establishes a stronger connection with the whole family unit. We become more important to clients because they come to see us as a mentor and resource to their children.

Finally, educational programs for children can yield surprising benefits to clients themselves. By instilling in young people a greater interest in personal finance, the seminars help open up a crucial conversation with their parents. Clients often struggle to communicate openly with their children about money, but these seminars offer a foundation for starting that dialogue. And more open communication about financial planning can help an entire family in the long run.