A Blog for Today’s Top Financial Advisors

Five Telltale Signs Your Clients Need Your Help – Episode 9

Key Takeaways:

  • An investment-centric approach doesn’t cut it anymore.
  • Helping clients with estate planning, business succession and other advanced planning concerns can add tremendous value.
  • Spotting moments when clients are concerned can boost loyalty, assets and profits.

Let’s face facts: Financial advisors live in a world of commoditized investments and fees that are constantly getting more compressed.

These days, if you’re focused only on helping your clients manage their investments—or even if that’s most of your value offer—you’re going to struggle to stay profitable. That’s why you’ve got to be on the lookout for opportunities to help your clients address their needs beyond investments.

If you can spot the signs that your clients need guidance with their taxes, estate planning, charitable giving or other concerns—and if you are positioned to help them solve their challenges—you can find yourself serving wealthier clients, significantly growing AUM and profits, and building a great life for yourself and your family.

Not a bad deal, right?

The key to seeing when your clients could really benefit from your advanced planning, noninvestment guidance is to first create a comprehensive profile of each client—one that provides you with deep-level insights into the client (including his or her values, interests, important relationships, and so on).

Be on the lookout

Among affluent clients, many challenges and opportunities repeat themselves. To help you with some of the common and recurring challenges and opportunities, consider these high-probability situations that affluent clients tend to find themselves in—along with potential problems, solutions and talking points that can be used to prompt clients to act or consider acting.

1. A highly concentrated stock position

  • Problem: Lack of diversification.
  • Potential solutions:
    • Create a well-diversified investment portfolio.
    • Sell positions using charitable trusts.
    • Employ various hedging strategies.
  • Ask the client: “Are you comfortable with having such a large percentage of your wealth in a single stock?”

2. An estate plan that is five or more years old

  • Problems:
    • An estate plan that does not provide the resolution the affluent client wants.
    • A life insurance policy that is just as old as the estate plan.
  • Potential solutions:
    • Review the current estate plan and make adjustments if there are gaps.
    • Do a 1035 exchange of the life insurance or select a new policy.
  • Ask the client: “If you could have the exact same life insurance coverage for less cost, would you be interested?”

3. Clients with second or third marriages (or blended families)

  • Problem: The desire for estate equalization and related concerns among the respective families and children.
  • Potential solutions:
    • Ensure that the estate plan is current.
    • Have money in individual accounts or in trusts for family members.
    • Use life insurance, if necessary, for estate equalization.
  • Ask the client: “Are you interested in all the children inheriting equally?”

4. A business owner with equity partners

  • Problem: Ownership of the business goes to someone the remaining partners do not want to work with, such as the deceased’s spouse.
  • Potential solution: Have an up-to-date buy/sell agreement funded by the appropriate investments or life insurance
  • Ask the client: “Do you want to be in business with your partner’s spouse?”

5. Special needs children

  • Problem: Ensuring the care and treatment of their children, no matter what.
  • Potential solutions:
    • Develop cost projections for the care of the child.
    • Establish a special needs trust.
    • Structure or oversee the structuring of an investment portfolio to address the child’s income requirements.
  • Ask the client: “Have you taken all the steps possible to make sure your son/daughter is financially secure?”

6. Potential future divorce

  • Problem: A case of fraudulent conveyance if the assets are moved at the wrong time.
  • Potential solutions:
    • Redo the affluent client’s estate plan while the couple is still together.
    • Use trusts to hold assets pre-divorce.
    • Use asset protection strategies in advance of the divorce.
  • Ask the client: “Are you interested in some ideas to keep your money out of the hands of that gold digger?”

7. Teenage children driving vehicles titled in their parents’ names (or owned by their parents’ company)

  • Problem: If the child is in a car accident where someone is injured or killed, the parents may be liable.
  • Potential solutions:
    • Select trusts or corporate structures to shield the assets of the parents.
    • Purchase maximum liability insurance.
  • Tell the client: “If your son hits a bus full of preschool children and someone on the bus is badly hurt or killed, the lawsuit will cut right through your umbrella policy, and everything you own may be lost.”

8. A foreign-born spouse

  • Problem: Certain estate planning strategies don’t apply.
  • Potential solutions:
    • Create a qualified domestic residence trust.
    • Ensure that all planning takes into account all relevant tax scenarios, such as multiple citizenships.
  • Tell the client: “Unless you use a particular type of trust, your heirs will lose half your estate to the IRS.”

9. Affluent business owners who plan to sell their companies in the future

  • Problem: The value of the company is expected to increase, resulting in the need to pay more in estate taxes.
  • Potential solutions:
    • Ensure the financial statements effectively convey the value of the business.
    • “Freeze” the value of the business using various trusts or partnerships.
  • Ask the client: “Are you interested in potentially saving more than $X million in future estate taxes?”

10. Valuable collections, such as artwork and jewelry

  • Problems:
    • The collection is not secure.
    • The insurance may not be adequate to replace lost pieces of the collection.
  • Potential solutions:
    • Take all reasonable steps to ensure the protection of the collection.
    • Obtain an up-to-date appraisal of the collection and make sure it is properly insured.
  • Ask the client: “When was the last time you took a good look at the value of your collection?”


All of these scenarios are ones in which your clients could likely benefit from the right expertise and guidance. That expertise could come from you, if you are highly skilled in a particular area. Or it could come from an outside professional you have built a relationship with to add greater value to your clients’ lives. In other words, you don’t have to do the work—you can bring the expertise to the client instead.

Regardless, it’s easy to see how your star will rise in your clients’ eyes if you are able to identify opportunities to help them and then bring high-quality solutions to bear on their issues.

The end result: highly satisfied clients who become instrumental in helping you grow your assets under management, serve more ideal clients and build a business that supports a life of meaning and significance.

Take Action

Accelerate your pathway to elite advisor status— Schedule your complimentary Strategy Session – Best Year Ever Consultation call to get on the fast track to even more success.

Where you go—and how fast you get there—is up to you.

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