How and why to connect with your clients’ beneficiaries

Une préposée au téléphone

You never want to receive a call from a beneficiary letting you know that one of your clients has just passed away, only to realize that you’ve never spoken to this person before.

Under these circumstances, it will not be easy to build a connection. Your compassion, no matter how genuine, might fall flat. And there’s a good chance you will not have the opportunity to continue in your role as financial advisor. As we wrote previously on the topic of beneficiary planning, most beneficiaries change advisors after the death of a parent, spouse, or partner.

But here’s the opportunity: Many beneficiaries say they would actually prefer to have a trusted multi-generational wealth advisor. The key is to help them see you in that light. It’s good for business and good for families when you build a connection with beneficiaries. Here are some tips to help you do it.

Answer questions (and ask your own)

In many families, insurance policies and estate plans are rarely discussed. Beneficiaries may not even realize that they are part of a very important insurance contract that could have a major impact on their financial life.

Encourage clients and their beneficiaries to join you in an introductory conversation about the type of insurance they have, how it works, how a claim is processed, the death benefit that will be paid, the process for receiving the funds, how those funds are accounted for and taxed, and answering any questions or concerns that they might have.

A great way to shift into a deeper financial planning conversion might be to ask beneficiaries something like, “How have you factored this future inheritance into your current financial plan?”

Listen carefully

When you know a client well, it’s easy to assume that their spouse or children are the same as them. But in reality, everyone has their own thoughts and needs when it come to money. They might also have unique ways of communicating about it based on their individual upbringings and life experiences.

When you have a chance to speak with beneficiaries, ask questions, listen closely, and try not to make too many assumptions. As you learn more about a beneficiary’s personal situation, hopes and fears, you will no doubt uncover areas where you can build rapport, identify needs, and provide guidance that they will appreciate.

Make communication comfortable

One of the ways to strengthen a connection with someone is to communicate in the style they prefer. As a multigenerational advisor, that might mean setting up face-to-face meetings with grandparents, talking to parents by phone, and asking grandkids if they’d like you to send them a text or email.

It might also mean being mindful of how fast you talk, how much detail you provide, and now much time you take in a given interaction based on the preferences of the individual.

Asking people how they prefer to engage with you can help them feel comfortable and maintain a dialogue that works for everyone. It’s just another way to show that you are listening, which is at the core of building trust.

Be thoughtful in small ways

Another key to creating and sustaining rapport is consistency. It’s great if you can have an initial meeting with a beneficiary. Now you need to look for ways to remain present and relevant in their lives. Here are a few ideas:

  • Check in every few months
  • Follow-up on any significant life events
  • Acknowledge birthdays or anniversaries
  • Remember and ask about personal details
  • Provide updates on the economy or the insurance industry
  • Host a webinar on financial or retirement planning
  • Ask for feedback or ideas to make your service better
  • Send a thank-you card or token of appreciation
  • Introduce them to someone in your network

Asking, listening, adjusting, staying in touch - all of these actions, if done consistently and sincerely, can help build a relationship strong enough that, if that call comes in one day, it won’t be the first time you’ve met. It’ll be more like two people who already know and trust each other working to manage a tough situation together.

Beneficiaries are some of the best people to spend your time getting to know. You are already connected to their family, and that puts you in a unique position to deepen that connection and multiply the value you create. When it comes time to implement your financial advice, you can trust that Beneva has the right mix of insurance solutions to support your recommendations.