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Jason Butler: Engaging the heirs of your most valuable clients

I recently gave a money-related talk in India. The audience comprised 80 young Indians, aged 22 to 30, attending a two-day event at a five-star beach resort, which had been organised by the firm that manages their parents’ wealth.

Speakers included experts in a range of subjects, from philanthropy and business innovation, to personal development, communications and global trends.

The firm in question, IIFLW, is one of India’s largest independently owned wealth management firms, running the equivalent of £11bn on behalf of 10,000 uber-rich families.

These families have invested a lot in the education of their children, with many going to foreign universities. I found them to be highly articulate, worldly wise, ambitious and motivated. There were a few key themes I picked up.

Jason Butler: Advice firms should run triage arms for financial health checks

Plough their own furrow: Many delegates said they were not keen to take over the family business. Some felt there were more promising opportunities elsewhere and that what had created the family wealth would not sustain it.

A number told me they were happy to join the family business, but only if they could eventually have proper control and influence to introduce new ideas. Some female delegates said their parents held the old-fashioned view that what they needed was a good husband.

Tough questions: In contrast to their parents, the 20-somethings at the conference have access to enormous amounts of information via the internet and are highly sceptical of claims made by so-called experts. This means IIFLW has to answer demanding questions about how it manages wealth.

How advisers are reaching out to younger clients

This generation of clients are likely to be much harder to please than their parents or grandparents.

Making a difference: Many delegates were keen to build a firm that made a positive difference to society, and was sustainable and ethical. Others were keen to develop philanthropic ideas to improve access to education, healthcare and protect human rights.

A sense of community: Despite none of the delegates ever having met each other before, they were bound together by a shared understanding of what it means to grow up in a wealthy family. By the end of the event, I could see friendships had been forged, ideas exchanged and a general sense of optimism prevailed.

IIFLW hosted this event with the adult children of its most valuable clients at considerable cost. But the insights, sense of community and mutual trust that developed as a result was invaluable.

It knows it does not have an automatic right to continue to manage each family’s wealth when the current family head passes away, unless it develops a similar meaningful relationship with the next generation.

Advice firm owners should take note. It makes sense to have a clear and proactive strategy for engaging with the heirs of your existing clients if you want to continue managing that family’s wealth in the long term.

Jason Butler is an expert in financial wellbeing. You can find him Tweeting @jbthewealthman 

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