Among the many things an advisor must accomplish when working with a family is to get a deep understanding of who they are as people – their goals, dreams, values and beliefs. What drives them to do what they want to do? Who are they and how do they want to be seen, remembered and thought of? While it is uncomfortable for many advisors to probe deeply into these areas, they will provide many key insights as to how to offer advice, what strategies best suit this family and what will best tell their story in the years to come.
And while you may choose not to be direct, the clients will generally offer clues that will help you discover their core values. Often, it’s in these values that their opportunities for discussing and implementing giving may emerge. Certain faith based families and cultures have an imperative for charity hard wired into their belief systems. This is not something to be exploited – but it is a place to open conversation and nurture deeper discussions so that the opportunity for real philanthropy can be deepened.
Understanding what makes a family tick, what drives their belief system, and where their moral code has its roots will often enable you to help them maximize their giving response.
It is extremely important for the advisor to be respectful of whatever the underlying belief system of any client is – and to take responsibility to understand it as well as possible. Ask questions about what their current giving is, what motivates them to give at this level, and how they feel about adding to what they’re doing or changing how they’re doing it. Do they give from guilt or because it brings them joy? Do they do it because they have to or because they want to? Talking in and around a family’s religious beliefs or cultural heritage can be a sensitive and delicate issue that requires the advisor to be extremely thoughtful. At the same time, it can be enlightening and informative in terms of what it reveals about the client.
Every theological belief system and every culture is different – honoring and respecting those cultural differences is imperative for every advisor. Learning and understanding them is also key to understanding the motivations of the families we serve. Careful exploration of these areas enable the advisor to communicate in a language that is familiar and respectful of the donor’s belief system and can empower them to make more thoughtful decisions.
There are many areas that advisors can explore to begin the giving conversation. Some are blatantly obvious such as low basis assets. Others may be more nuanced, such as converting low income producing assets to charitable vehicles at retirement. None, however, may be as potentially rewarding or as fruitful as the discussion around religious or cultural beliefs. With these areas, we speak directly to the client’s values and moral code; the very core of who they are and how they want their family to be for the future. We speak to their legacy, to their future, and to unborn generations. We speak to their hearts and their souls and their purpose. This is where the power of what we offer can actuate their deepest desires and we can help them transform their desires into tangible actions.
Give me a call at (704) 698-4055 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how charitable planning can benefit your clients.