ELITE ADVISOR BEST PRACTICES

What Wealth Advisors Need to Know About Planned Giving

To become excellent at planned giving, we have identified four distinct areas that you should focus on

By Randy Fox

Key Takeaways:

  • Providing planned giving advice for high-net-worth families can differentiate your practice from that of your competitors, and it is what HNW clients are asking for.
  • Many wealth advisors would like to help clients with planned giving, but they don’t want to appear ill-informed and don’t know where to turn for reliable help.
  • Charitable planning is a team sport. Developing a balanced, multidisciplinary team approach to planning takes skill, patience, diplomacy and honesty to be effective.


Many wealth advisors sense that clients want to step up their philanthropic involvement—especially as clients age—but they aren’t sure how best to help their clients. To become excellent at planned giving, we have identified four distinct areas that you should focus on right now to CRUSH IT and bring added value to your client relationships. Each of these areas, of course, has subcategories, but you don’t have to learn everything at once. There are experts in each of the following four areas that can help you.

Let’s discuss Opportunity Recognition first because it is the most important area of all. If you sense the possibility of a particular planned gift in your client’s financial statement or goals (or the look in their eyes), you are on your way and you can find another advisor to assist you.

1. Opportunity Recognition
  • Would you know a gift if you saw one, or if it hit you in the face?
  • Do you know where and how to look for giving opportunities?
  • Can you hear the implication of a gift in your client’s questions?

We’ve identified at least 13 different areas in which you can spot gifts that other advisors will probably miss. And each of those areas have subareas.

It’s really helpful to have a track to run on. Think of it as “Gifts Positioning System™” (GPS). Here are a few things to look at:

  • Too much income
  • Too little income
  • Wills and trusts
  • Schedule A of form 1040 and many more
2. Technical
  • Knowledge of each of the types of gifts
  • The tax rules
  • The types of assets and all of the other aspects involved in making and completing a gift
  • Where and when to apply a certain gift technique and what the implications are for the donor and for the charity

There is a lot of information out there, but understanding the nuances of all the techniques on your own can be a challenge. This is where a small number of advisors feel somewhat comfortable, and it’s not difficult to become functionally literate in this. Again, when it comes to planned giving, chances are you don’t know what you don’t know, and a small mistake can lead to big problems. Those who become proficient in this area can reap the benefits of unsolicited referrals and increased income.

3. “The Conversation”

The topic involves speaking to clients and prospects in a much different way than most advisors are used to doing. We put the word “conversation” in quotes simply because it points to one of the biggest challenges about the topic:

  • How do you know where to begin to approach clients differently?
  • What do you say?
  • How do you say it?
  • How will they react?

It makes many advisors uncomfortable to think about asking about family values and legacy and vision statements. Yet, here’s the rub. Wealthy clients are telling anyone who asks that this is exactly what they want. Getting good in this area will set you apart from most of your peers— far apart.

4. Collaboration

Charitable planning is a team sport. Advisors need other advisors in every planning case. Who those advisors are and how they work together is a huge challenge and can mean the difference between a successful, implemented, lucrative case with a happy client, or a total disaster.

Collaborating with other advisors is different than working in your individual silo and doing only your piece of the work. Developing a balanced, multidisciplinary team approach to planning takes skill, patience, diplomacy and honesty to be effective. Contact me anytime if you’d like to learn more about how to gain these skills.

Conclusion

Now that you have learned the four key areas to achieving mastery in planned giving, you can begin your journey with a little more certainty. Set some milestones to shoot for and hurdles to clear or find a place that will help you move through this subject with more certainty. And remember, it all starts with the first step … one baby step at a time.

Copyright © 2015 EzCharitable, LLC


About the Author

Randy Fox is Editor in Chief of Planned Giving Design Center and is the regional representative of Charitable Giving Resource Center.