The Wealth Succession Process

Getting all your client’s advisors on board

By Guy Baker

Key Takeaways:

  • Most clients don’t want to be pressured into being the primary decision-maker when it comes to complex wealth management strategies.
  • Make sure you get all of a client’s trusted advisors to buy into your wealth management plan—BEFORE you show it to your client.
  • When building rapport with a client’s other advisors, try to get everyone together in a single planning meeting.

Years ago, I was introduced to a very well-known industrial psychologist who needed help with his wealth planning. He and his wife had retained several firms to help them. But they were never able to implement any plans the experts recommended and had become very cynical about the entire wealth planning process.

Before our first meeting, I knew from my referral sources that he would ask me two questions. First he would ask if I was talking him into buying more life insurance. Second he would ask me why I thought I would succeed when the other groups had failed.

Soon after we finally met, he indeed asked both questions. I answered the first question by simply telling him that I have never sold insurance to anyone who didn’t want it. So if he wasn’t interested in buying life insurance, I assured him it wouldn’t be an issue. The second question required a bit more finesse. I started by asking the psychologist a question: “Bob, why do you think your previous experiences did not result in a satisfactory outcome?”

Bob’s answer was very interesting. Essentially, he told me that the result of the process required him to decide whether the solutions they proposed would work. He said he had no training or ability to make that determination and felt totally unqualified to answer their questions. As a result, none of the groups was able to satisfy his insecurity and overcome his unwillingness to activate its recommendations.

At that point, I felt armed with enough information to answer his question about why I thought I could succeed when so many others had failed. I jumped to his whiteboard and drew five boxes.

BT Online

I then labeled the boxes and told him that this was the standard five-box planning process taught by virtually every professional planning curriculum in the industry. He verified that was exactly what the other wealth planning groups suggested to him.

I then made my first thrust and parry. “Bob,” I said, “the reason this did not work is because it fails to answer your primary question. It makes you the primary decision-maker, and as you stated, you are woefully ill prepared to make these decisions.”

Bob asked me, “Why doesn’t it work, then?”

“The evaluation box is in the wrong spot,” I explained. “The evaluation box follows the recommendation. It needs to be moved up in the process and follow the design.”

Bob leaned forward and asked, “How would that work exactly?”

After I finished drawing the changes, I explained softly, “We have to get all your trusted advisors to buy into the plan BEFORE we show it to you. It means everyone who knows you and whom you trust has to agree that this plan is in your best interest and accomplishes all your objectives.”

Bob leaped out of his chair and said, “That will work. Yes, that would work. If all my advisors were in favor of the plan, I would be willing to implement it.”

Bob engaged me on the spot, and we started to plan the project. Bob ended up implementing the recommendations we made, and we had a successful outcome. It was such a subtle change, but it made all the difference in the world.

Working collaboratively with a team of advisors is NOT a new idea. But how many really do it? How many are willing to invest the mental energy required to make this happen? Unfortunately, too few. Advisors are way too territorial and protective of their own interests to want to risk the potential “sale” by bringing in other advisors. Yet in the final analysis, it is the only logical solution.


When you have the opportunity to work with a HNW client in the future, I suggest you invest time in building rapport with the entire team and utilize a process that will bring everyone together in one planning meeting. Deal with the issues and get everyone’s input. Remember, clients will do what they want to do when they want to do it. You have nothing to lose.

About the Author

Guy Baker, MBA, MSFS, CFP® is a financial advisor to business owners. He works to help owners find ways to reorganize their planning to achieve tax-efficient solutions to their succession, retirement and estate planning problems. Guy is a 34-year member of Top of the Table and recognized by Worth magazine as one of the top 250 financial advisors. For more information, you can contact him at guy@bmiconsulting.com or through www.bmiconsulting.com.