This subject came from a conversation I had recently with a young adviser – well at least he’s a good few years younger than me! As we were discussing target markets and where his clients come from, we had a very engaging conversation about doing business with family.
This adviser has actively steered clear of doing business with his family. His thinking was that it’s just not a good idea to mix business with family and he likes to keep the two parts of his life separate. While I understand this viewpoint, I don’t agree with it.
I completely accept that financial planning is a very personal exercise and that some of your family members may not want to share their intimate details with you. Of course that’s their right and if that’s the case, you should do your utmost to point them in the direction of another planner who you are confident will look after them well. In fact I’d go further and suggest that before you engage at all with a family member, make it crystal clear that you will be delving into the intimate details of their financial life and also potentially their health. Don’t spring this on them later in the process, as this will cause awkwardness and potentially worse, they may withhold some information from you. This is a potential disaster for everyone.
But don’t close your door to them just because they are family. Here are some reasons why I believe your door should be open and the choice should be theirs as to whether they walk through it or not.
Your proposition will benefit them
If your proposition is very good and positioned openly and honestly with family members, why would you not make it available to them? Be crystal clear about what you influence and control (the plan and their behaviours) and what you don’t (the markets). Make sure they know fully what to expect in advance – avoid surprises. But don’t refuse them access to your valuable proposition.
They trust you
So much of financial planning comes down to trust, having a deep belief that the adviser is in their corner and has their best interests at heart. This is sometimes a lengthy process, building up this position of trust. Hopefully with your family members, you have it from the outset – they just know that you will do everything in your power to see them right.
You have each other’s backs
We all want the best outcomes for our family and will go the extra mile. They will probably want to do business with you and help you grow your business. They know you’ll earn money from the work, but will usually be happier that this income is going to you than to some unconnected third party. Likewise, you’ll pull out all the stops for family members, you are very likely to go the extra mile to achieve the best outcomes for them. On top of this, you may transact business on “mates rates”, providing value for them too. The chances are everyone will be a winner…
You can cut to the chase
An advantage that you hold over all other financial planners is that you begin the process with lots of intimate knowledge of their situation. Of course you need to fully validate your information through careful questioning of objectives and factfinding, but you’re not starting with a blank page.
Indeed you have the added advantage of understanding any unique dynamics at play and also being able to cut to the chase… You know if pictures are being painted in strange or maybe over-optimistic hues and can gently call out your family member when this happens, as opposed to blindly accepting it as another adviser inadvertently will. With your prior knowledge, you can help to shape the most accurate picture, which in turn will help to ensure the best possible plan is developed and the best outcomes achieved.
A great source of referrals
Excellent financial planning transforms lives. Do this for your family members and they will be forever grateful, as you help them improve the quality of their lives. They’ll also tell other people and will be a great source of other new clients. Your family are happy to help you grow your business, their friends who become your clients experience the benefits of your excellent proposition and you grow your business. Winners all around.
Is it time for you to mix family and business?