Advisors are good at many things, but talking to their clients about philanthropy is not one of them. According to an August study by U.S. Trust and the Philanthropic Initiative, high net worth clients who report having discussed philanthropy with an advisor say their advisor initiated the discussion just 17% of the time. An earlier study by U.S. Trust found that 95% of wealthy investors donate to charity. That's a big gap. "Advisors could be doing much more to connect with their high net worth clients about their philanthropic goals," says Claire Costello, national philanthropic practice executive for U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management, who was involved in the first study.

Dan Harris, business initiatives manager at Wells Fargo Private Bank, agrees that too many advisors hesitate to ask their high net worth clients about their philanthropic aspirations. He suggests, "I think it's because [they're afraid] of giving away assets, and they haven't been trained to talk about it."

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