Paula Feinberg has found a rewarding and habit-forming way to engage with clients' children: through her financial support of their own charitable activities.
If a client mentions a that child has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, for example, Feinberg -- who is with Raymond James & Associates in Dallas and has more than $70 million under management -- almost automatically suggests that she herself make a donation in the child's name. "Can I make a gift to their project?" Feinberg asks.
To celebrate clients' children's birthdays, weddings, graduations, and other special occasions, Feinberg makes charitable contributions in their names and sends cards, if the charity hasn't done so itself, to let them know about her gift.
"It helps set the right tone," Feinberg says.
She has also invited clients to bring their children to work on charity projects with her. "They help clean a park, get involved at a different level and start thinking of me not just as someone who manages money," Feinberg says. Those gestures have led to clients' children coming to her for financial advice, she says.
TALKING ABOUT GIVING
A family discussion about charitable giving can even involve very young children, says Zaneila Harris, of Harris and Harris Wealth Management in Upper Marlboro, Md. "You don't have to wait for the children to grow up," says Harris, who manages about $10 million in assets.
Harris encourages clients to start talking about the family's charitable aspirations by the time the children turn 10. She recommends inviting the clients and their children to the advisor's offices to have a family discussion about the family's giving.
She also suggests that clients consider donor-advised funds or even charitable trusts with specific requirements calling for their children to help select the charitable beneficiaries. Such tactics bring the children into the "giving circle," she says, and helps begin a relationship between the advisor and the next generation.
Miriam Rozen, a Financial Planning contributing writer, is a staff reporter at Texas Lawyer in Dallas.