Future Proofing your Business – Through Generational Planning
October 1, 2017

This series of blogs are looking at ways in which you can help your business stand the test of time. Naturally, businesses are very unpredictable and changes occur which are not always expected. Therefore, these blogs are looking at ways to add security to your business by ‘future proofing’ where possible. The last blog looked at how client relationships can be managed to help prepare for any changes. This week we are looking at generational planning as a means of future proofing.

When helping others plan for what is to come, you can also help yourself plan for the future too. Generational planning can continue a service which secures future work for your business as it’s possible that your firm would also benefit from continuing to handle the same accounts and investments.  Generational planning also works in the client’s interest by providing reassurance and familiarity through a consistent service. Therefore, implementing this into the positioning of your company is a valuable ‘future proof’ strategy.

Generational planning refers to working with successors in the company processes, communications and culture. This could be achieved through using a light touch approach or through a formal generational planning service.  It provides “Tried and tested methods that are seeing success in the real world right now, particularly as financial advisers work towards securing successors by involving them in the planning process.”

That being said, there are a number of potential challenges you’ll need to be aware of. These include:

  • The logistics of tracking down relatives which may be in another town, country or even time zone! Advisers need services which will be able to continue providing their services.
  • Scepticism from children – as generations naturally change it cannot be assumed that they will have the same perceptions or circumstances to invest.
  • Prejudge – advisers will already be aware of their younger clients before they have even met them. Therefore they must be prepared to start with a clean slate to rid any preconceptions.

Here are out tips on how to overcome these challenges in generational planning.

Set your company’s positioning

This refers to positioning your firm to include generational planning services. This should be adopted by the whole team and clearly demonstrated in your marketing communications. Examples of implementing generational planning into your company’s operations could include an IFA congratulating clients on a new addition to the family – grandchildren are a good reminder to think ahead.

Generational planning works best by adopting a client centred approach but you will also need to consider other family members and beneficiaries. This can be done quite informally by simply asking – “how would you feel about inviting your son to our next review meeting? It might help if he understands the process too.”

 Planning the roadmap

At the early stages of beginning a process with your client it is wise to include the family members and beneficiaries in the planning and reviews. It is an excellent opportunity to discuss who should be involved and when.

Using a light touch

As generational planning can be difficult to discuss, it must be approached gently as clients will not appreciate feeling like they are being ‘sold to’. A light touch of suggesting that family members are introduced and included has shown that they are more likely to retain the beneficiaries’ business if they meet the adviser in person.

Introduce a generational review scheme

A bespoke add-on service, a Generational Review Service is a good opportunity to get beneficiaries and successors in a room with you. This enables you to develop a tailor made service developed with both your client and their successor’s agendas in mind. Not only do advisers get to develop a relationship with a beneficiary, but the beneficiary can also see first-hand the competence, knowledge and empathy of the adviser and their firm.

Listening to and reading about this advice is an excellent start, but it’s important that generational planning is implemented properly. The nitty-gritty of paperwork and procedure may not be the most exciting aspect of your work, but it is a vital element that should be given due attention. You will need to think carefully about a smart and structured process that is put into practice with every single client. On top of that, generational planning needs to become embedded into the culture of the firm.