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Wells Fargo and Raymond James Have Secret Weapons to Target Wealthy Clients’ Kids

By Miriam Rozen December 4, 2018

Although some commentators say Raymond James often delays pursuing the newest, most fashionable client-marketing strategies, doing so only if rivals have road-tested them and shown they have merit, the St. Petersburg, Fla.-based firm is out front with its suite of longevity planning resources. Raymond James introduced the new resources only nine months ago, and already nearly 2,000 of its clients have started using them.

“We’ve heard a lot of great anecdotal feedback from our advisors,” Frank McAleer, Raymond James' senior vice president of wealth, retirement and portfolio solutions, says about the new resources.

Raymond James began offering advisors the resources -- which include a heavily-vetted roster of recommended vendors to send to clients so families (including adult children) may plan for their parents’ advancing years -- in February. The list includes vendors for health care, caregiving, and transportation services. Raymond James also provides guides for advisors to work with clients on risk management issues associated with aging, including long-term care, Medicare, and elder financial fraud protection.

Raymond James expects the new longevity planning resources to help the firm achieve its goal of winning relationships with clients’ adult children, who will likely inherit their aging parents’ assets. “You cannot help but get the entire family involved,” McAleer says about the parents’ longevity planning.

Most advisory firms are eager to find new ways to connect with clients’ children, given the risks that once their parents are gone, so too will be the family’s relationship with their advisors. Surveys, including one of 544 advisors conducted by InvestmentNews, have shown repeatedly that most children slash ties with their parents’ financial advisors after inheriting their parents’ wealth.

Moreover, clients and their children or grandchildren won’t necessarily respond positively to all -- or any -- overtures advisors make when they seek to get to know more family members.

“You have to have authentic reasons for making inquiries about the kids and grandkids,” says Arne Boudewyn, a managing director at Abbot Downing, Wells Fargo’s ultra-high-net-worth unit. Boudewyn also leads Wells' Institute for Family Culture, which focuses on ways to get clients’ children engaged with their parents’ advisors.

For most families, longevity planning ranks as an authentic need, thus explaining why Raymond James has focused attention on the new strategy. To develop its longevity planning resources, Raymond James looked inward and outward. The firm relied on its Retirement Solutions Advisory Board (a group of 40 advisors). They also worked with experts at MIT, including Joseph Coughlin, director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology's AgeLab and author of a paper suggesting three questions to pose to lead to quality retirement decisions: “Who will change my lightbulbs? How will I get an ice cream cone? Who will I have lunch with?”

Those questions highlight the concepts clients have to tackle if they want to age in their homes as long as possible. “It was our first step,” McAleer recalls about the MIT research.

In his writings, Coughlin also outlines the demographic changes that have made longevity planning so valuable for most U.S. families. “The baby boomers are facing a different retirement than their parents. They’re more likely to live alone, to have fewer children, and to live in suburban and rural locations that may not provide easy access to active and livable communities,” he writes.

Initially, Raymond James encouraged advisors to develop longevity planning resources on their own. But McAleer says his team quickly realized “that’s a hard job for advisors,” given everything else on their plates. His team opted to develop and vet resources and make the lists available to advisors who, in turn, could offer them to clients.

“We can say to our advisors, ‘These are vetted resources,’” McAleer says. When the advisors use the lists to help plan for longer lifespans, they and their clients typically recognize that the children’s participation in the discussions is essential. “It’s not the old days where all the kids live around the block. These resources really help address the relationships,” says McAleer.

For Raymond James, longevity planning not only helps its advisors develop relationships with clients' children but also helps to distinguish the firm from rivals. “We find it to be a real differentiator, that you can bring these issues up,” McAleer says.

For clients' children, they learn that Raymond James advisors are “more than just someone managing my parents’ money,” he says.