The Top 10 Ways to be Successful in 2017

The Top 10 Ways to be Successful in 2017

Article posted in General, Practice on 29 December 2016| 3 comments
audience: National Publication | last updated: 5 January 2017


I provide a rebuttal for my earlier article and remove my tongue from my cheek.

  1. Whatever you do, DO NOT add philanthropic planning to your practice. After all, 31% of HNW respondents, said they would switch advisors if they could find someone who they could talk with about philanthropy. Look how crowded your office would be. And, there goes Friday afternoons on the golf course. Who needs the headaches?
    1. Whatever you do, find a way to incorporate philanthropic planning into your practice. 31% of High Net Worth families indicated that they would change advisors if they could find one that discussed their philanthropy with them. This is an incredible way to create a differentiation between you and other advisors in your community. This is also known as a marketing plan.
  2. If you ignore #1 above, whatever you do, don’t be the one to bring it up. Wait for them. After all, it’s very personal and you don’t want to go THERE.
    1. Should you have the wisdom and courage to undertake #1 above, you should begin the discussions about giving early in your relationship. It’s best to raise the subject in the first two or three get togethers. Let your new clients know that this is something that’s important to you and that you want to help facilitate and are committed to helping them discover or define their philanthropic vision.
  3. If they finally do bring it up, make sure you have a solution or two as your “go to” answer. Get the darn transaction out of the way and move on. Fast.
    1. Once the topic is understood as important for them, remember that until you know what they care about and why they care about it, that tactical solutions don’t matter. The implementation of the “how” must come after the “why”. This takes time and thoughtful conversations. If you are not skilled in this type of discovery, find someone who is. You’ll lose no standing with your clients. They want to get where they’re going. You don’t have to be the expert at everything. In fact, they probably know you’re not. Find experts. Know experts. That’s all that’s needed.
  4. If you just can’t stand it anymore, wait ‘til you know how much money they have and, if there’s enough, give them the solution that produces the most tax savings and leaves just the crumbs to charity. You have to wait ‘til you really get a feel for their dough, though.
    1. As much as we like to believe that tax savings motivate giving, they don’t. Certainly tax savings are a nice benefit and your clients won’t turn them down but they want to give because they want to give back and to make a difference. If you lead with tax savings and nothing else, you’ll not have the results you’d like.
  5. Make sure they know it’s all about saving taxes. HNW families hate taxes. Anything you show them has to save a bunch of tax or they won’t even consider it. You can figure out who gets the money later. Who cares?
    1. See #4 above.
  6. Do not, NEVER, EVER, get the kids involved. After all, it’s the parents’ money and they don’t want the kids to know just how much there is. So what if they always fly First Class and stay at the Peninsula, that’s different. It’s a treat. It’s vacation. So, there’s someone who cleans the house and a company of guys who takes care of the lawn and gardening. Everyone has that, right? Anyway, they worked hard for this stuff and they didn’t get rich by their parents teaching them to give it away. Someone in the family surely lived through The Great Depression. Seriously.
    a. Show them how to get the children involved in their giving. (Ask them first, of course). Most parents don’t know how to do this so, therefore feel inadequate to lead the way. Those that have managed to do this indicate that they are happy with the results so why not be the hero to help them step into this perceived dangerous territory. Studies have now shown that families who regularly gather around philanthropy are happier, communicate better, and remain in contact longer. This type of success will not only empower the family, it should link you as a valuable resource to the family not only for the older generation but also to the younger generations. Teaching money skills through philanthropy is a powerful method of educational involvement.
  7. Remember, the only thing they care about is their pile of money and making it bigger. And, then getting it to the kids and praying it won’t screw them up (more). The only cause they possibly care about is the first church of me, me, me.
    1. Wealthy families really want to give back. That’s why 91% of them do so. However, their giving is often helter-skelter and not very strategic. This is somewhat because most of their giving is reactive: going to charity events, responding to calls from friends on boards, etc. What is really important is for their advisors to help them to discover the causes that truly resonate with who they are and what they hold as important to them. Helping your clients gain clarity about their philanthropic goals is as important as helping them gain clarity about their other financial goals. In fact, they should be part of the same conversation. Then, and only then, does strategy matter.
  8. If you volunteer for something, like at an animal shelter or a food pantry, WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T TALK ABOUT IT. They’ll just think you’re some kind of do-gooder.
    1. Sharing your own experiences is critical. One thing that is clear, is that volunteers care about the organizations they volunteer for. Helping your clients identify volunteering opportunities, is equally as important as helping them allocate their financial resources. They want to help but they don’t always know where or how.
  9. Do not go to conferences, break-out sessions or local meetings that talk about charitable planning. It’s way complicated and nobody uses much of it anyway. There’s plenty of really good online information that can help you through the hard spots. After all, if it’s on the internet, it’s got to be right. Ignorance is bliss.
    1. If you want to become a well-educated philanthropic advisor, it takes some work. There are conferences like Advisors in Philanthropy, The National Association of Charitable Gift Planners and others. Get educated. Learn how to spot opportunities. Join your local planned giving council, estate planning council or tie in to your local community foundation. Sign up for this newsletter, it’s free.
  10. If, for some unforeseen reason, your HNW client decides to do something charitable make sure the attorney they use doesn’t charge much. After all, the IRS has forms and it’s mostly “fill in the blanks” work. They’ll like that you saved them money. If you’re an attorney, you don’t need help even if you’ve never done this before. After all, the IRS has free documents and all you need to do is fill in the blanks. Am I getting redundant?
    1. Philanthropy is a team sport. You must become an effective collaborator to really serve your clients well. Finding the right team for every case can mean the difference between success and failure. There are often lots of moving parts in designing and implementing a strategic philanthropic plan and there has to be coordination between many parties to be successful. You clients deserve this and their success is what is important.

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Re: The Top 10 Ways to be Successful in 2017

Randy, your tongue and cheek are inseparable - good thing for all of us. Thanks for the humorous list!

Re: The Top 10 Ways to be Successful in 2017

Great article. Responds to all the key attitudes I hear from many advisors. Thank you!

Re: The Top 10 Ways to be Successful in 2017

Thanks. Unfortunately I've learned this from a lot of experience

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