Engaging Your Clients in the Philanthropic Conversation is Better for Business

December 10, 2013

I wasn’t surprised. I was familiar with the statistics. In preparing for a focus group a couple of years ago with trusted advisors, I’d done the research and learned about the frequency with which advisors discuss philanthropy with their clients.

The Philanthropic Conversation

The latest survey from the U.S. Trust and The Philanthropic Initiative, released this fall, confirms there’s still a long way to go in terms of broaching the subject of philanthropy with clients. The U.S. Trust Study of the Philanthropic Conversation: Understanding advisor approaches and client expectations highlights the continued need for advisors to raise the subject with their clients—early and often.

What was surprising about the findings was the discrepancy between the advisors perceptions and the clients’ view of the philanthropic conversation

For example:

  • 89% of advisors say they discuss philanthropy with some of their clients
  • 55% of clients say they discuss philanthropy with a professional advisor

That’s a huge gap!

Another discrepancy:

  • 33% of advisors say they initiate the philanthropic conversation
  • 51% of clients who have discussed philanthropy with their advisors say they have initiated the conversation

Again, a sizable gap!

To be fair, advisors (88%) agree that these discussions are important. Yet they may not be discussing philanthropy as much as they could or in a meaningful way.

Clients Main Concerns

What clients are really concerned about, according to the study, is that they have a meaningful conversation about philanthropy early on in their relationship with an advisor. And by meaningful, they mean a values-based conversation. Discussions currently seem to be more technically directed rather than focused on a client’s philanthropic goals or passions. Clients WANT to have this conversation!

And they also want to talk about how to involve their children and grandchildren in discussions of charitable giving (an issue near and dear to my heart). This is especially important since more than 80% of advisors lose the next generation to other advisors at the point of wealth transfer.

Good for Business

Do you feel uncomfortable having this conversation with your clients? Do you wish you had a resource to refer your clients to if the conversation goes beyond your comfort zone? Do you wonder how you could start to bring your clients’ children or grandchildren into your relationship? This is where a philanthropic advisor comes in. We can help guide you in how to start this conversation, how to involve the next generations, and when to hand it off if necessary. Our focus is philanthropy and giving, something that the majority of your clients are involved in, one way or another.

By initiating the philanthropic conversation with your clients, you can improve your business. The study sheds light on the advantages of discussing philanthropy. Three out of four advisors say this conversation is good for business for a myriad of reasons:

  • it “deepens relationships” with clients (75%)
  • it helps to build connections with other members of the clients’ family (56%)
  • it “establishes new relationships” (54%)
  • it “presents a more comprehensive and holistic approach to managing a client’s wealth” (24%)
  • it “demonstrates greater interest in their clients’ charitable goals and aspirations” (18%)
  • it “shows clients that they are interested in more than just their clients’ money” (13%)
  • it “provides insights that help advisors better serve their clients” (13%)

These are all of the positive benefits of discussing charitable giving with your clients.

So, how can I help you strengthen your business by serving your clients’ philanthropic desires and needs? Contact me to discuss this study further. I’d love to be of assistance to you and your clients.

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